- Γεγονότα, Hμερολόγιο -



Original Front Cover.

Original Title Page.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India

Castes and Tribes
Southern India
Edgar Thurston, C.I.E.,
Superintendent, Madras Government Museum; Correspondant Étranger, Société d’Anthropologie de Paris; Socio Corrispondante, Societa, Romana di Anthropologia.
Assisted by K. Rangachari, M.A.,
of the Madras Government Museum.
Volume I—A and B
Government Press, Madras

List of Illustrations.

I. a. Skull of Tamil man. b. Skull from Aditanallur.
II. South Indian boomerangs.
III. a. European skull. b. Hindu skull.
IV. Linga Banajiga.
V. Diagram of noses.
VI. Agamudaiyans, Madura district.
VII. Āradhya Brāhman.
VIII. Dolmens near Kotagiri.
IX. Badagas.
X. Badaga girls.
XI. Badaga temple.
XII. Badagas making fire.
XIII. Badaga funeral car with the corpse.
XIV. Badaga funeral car.
XV. Bairāgis.
XVI. Gazula Balija with bangles.
XVII. Balija bride and bridegroom.
XVIII. Kambla buffalo race.
XIX. Kambla racing buffaloes.
XX. Pūkāre post at Kambla buffalo races.
XXI. Bedar.
XXII. Billava toddy-tapper.
XXIII. Brāhman house with marks of hand to ward off the evil eye.
XXIV. Telugu Brāhman with rudraksha coat.
XXV. Smartha Brāhman (Brahacharnam) doing Siva worship.
XXVI. Padmanābha Swāmi.
XXVII. Dikshitar Brāhman.
XXVIII. Mādhva Brāhman.
XXIX. Fuel stack at Udipi Matt.
XXX. Oriya Brāhman.
XXXI. Konkani Brāhman.



In 1894, equipped with a set of anthropometric instruments obtained on loan from the Asiatic Society of Bengal, I commenced an investigation of the tribes of the Nīlgiri hills, the Todas, Kotas, and Badagas, bringing down on myself the unofficial criticism that “anthropological research at high altitudes is eminently indicated when the thermometer registers 100° in Madras.” From this modest beginning have resulted:—(1) investigation of various classes which inhabit the city of Madras; (2) periodical tours to various parts of the Madras Presidency, with a view to the study of the more important tribes and classes; (3) the publication of Bulletins, wherein the results of my work are embodied; (4) the establishment of an anthropological laboratory; (5) a collection of photographs of Native types; (6) a series of lantern slides for lecture purposes; (7) a collection of phonograph records of tribal songs and music.

The scheme for a systematic and detailed ethnographic survey of the whole of India received the formal sanction of the Government of India in 1901. A Superintendent of Ethnography was appointed for each [x]Presidency or Province, to carry out the work of the survey in addition to his other duties. The other duty, in my particular case—the direction of a large local museum—happily made an excellent blend with the survey operations, as the work of collection for the ethnological section went on simultaneously with that of investigation. The survey was financed for a period of five (afterwards extended to eight) years, and an annual allotment of Rs. 5,000 provided for each Presidency and Province. This included Rs. 2,000 for approved notes on monographs, and replies to the stereotyped series of questions. The replies to these questions were not, I am bound to admit, always entirely satisfactory, as they broke down both in accuracy and detail. I may, as an illustration, cite the following description of making fire by friction. “They know how to make fire, i.e., by friction of wood as well as stone, etc. They take a triangular cut of stone, and one flat oblong size flat. They hit one another with the maintenance of cocoanut fibre or copper, then fire sets immediately, and also by rubbing the two barks frequently with each other they make fire.”

I gladly place on record my hearty appreciation of the services rendered by Mr. K. Rangachari in the preparation of the present volumes. During my temporary absence in Europe, he was placed in charge of the survey, and he has been throughout invaluable in obtaining information concerning manners and customs, as interpreter and photographer, and in taking phonograph records. [xi]

For information relating to the tribes and castes of Cochin and Travancore, I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to Messrs. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyer and N. Subramani Aiyer, the Superintendents of Ethnography for their respective States. The notes relating to the Cochin State have been independently published at the Ernakulam Press, Cochin.

In the scheme for the Ethnographic Survey, it was laid down that the Superintendents should supplement the information obtained from representative men and by their own enquiries by “researches into the considerable mass of information which lies buried in official reports, in the journals of learned Societies, and in various books.” Of this injunction full advantage has been taken, as will be evident from the abundant crop of references in foot-notes.

It is impossible to express my thanks individually to the very large number of correspondents, European and Indian, who have generously assisted me in my work. I may, however, refer to the immense aid which I have received from the District Manuals edited by Mr. (now Sir) H. A. Stuart, I.C.S., and the District Gazetteers, which have been quite recently issued under the editorship of Mr. W. Francis, I.C.S., Mr. F. R. Hemingway, I.C.S., and Mr. F. B. Evans, I.C.S.

My thanks are further due to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, to whom I am indebted for much information acquired when he was engaged in the preparation of the District Gazetteers, and for revising the proof sheets. [xii]

For some of the photographs of Badagas, Kurumbas, and Todas, I am indebted to Mr. A. T. W. Penn of Ootacamund.

I may add that the anthropometric data are all the result of measurements taken by myself, in order to eliminate the varying error resulting from the employment of a plurality of observers.

E. T. [xiii]


The vast tract of country, over which my investigations in connection with the ethnographic survey of South India have extended, is commonly known as the Madras Presidency, and officially as the Presidency of Fort St. George and its Dependencies. Included therein were the small feudatory States of Pudukōttai, Banganapalle, and Sandūr, and the larger Native States of Travancore and Cochin. The area of the British territory and Feudatory States, as returned at the census, 1901, was 143,221 square miles, and the population 38,623,066. The area and population of the Native States of Travancore and Cochin, as recorded at the same census, were as follows:—

Area. Population.
Sq. Miles.
Travancore 7,091 2,952,157
Cochin 1,361 512,025

Briefly, the task which was set me in 1901 was to record the ‘manners and customs’ and physical characters of more than 300 castes and tribes, representing more than 40,000,000 individuals, and spread over an area exceeding 150,000 square miles.

The Native State of Mysore, which is surrounded by the Madras Presidency on all sides, except on part of the west, where the Bombay Presidency forms the boundary, was excluded from my beat ethnographically, but included for the purpose of anthropometry. As, however, nearly all the castes and tribes which inhabit the Mysore State are common to it and the Madras [xiv]Presidency, I have given here and there some information relating thereto.

It was clearly impossible for myself and my assistant, in our travels, to do more than carry out personal investigations over a small portion of the vast area indicated above, which provides ample scope for research by many trained explorers. And I would that more men, like my friends Dr. Rivers and Mr. Lapicque, who have recently studied Man in Southern India from an anthropological and physiological point of view, would come out on a visit, and study some of the more important castes and tribes in detail. I can promise them every facility for carrying out their work under the most favourable conditions for research, if not of climate. And we can provide them with anything from 112° in the shade to the sweet half English air of the Nīlgiri and other hill-ranges.

Routine work at head-quarters unhappily keeps me a close prisoner in the office chair for nine months in the year. But I have endeavoured to snatch three months on circuit in camp, during which the dual functions of the survey—the collection of ethnographic and anthropometric data—were carried out in the peaceful isolation of the jungle, in villages, and in mofussil (up-country) towns. These wandering expeditions have afforded ample evidence that delay in carrying through the scheme for the survey would have been fatal. For, as in the Pacific and other regions, so in India, civilisation is bringing about a radical change in indigenous manners and customs, and mode of life. It has, in this connection, been well said that “there will be plenty of money and people available for anthropological research, when there are no more aborigines. And it behoves our museums to waste no time in completing their anthropological [xv]collections.” Tribes which, only a few years ago, were living in a wild state, clad in a cool and simple garb of forest leaves, buried away in the depths of the jungle, and living, like pigs and bears, on roots, honey, and other forest produce, have now come under the domesticating, and sometimes detrimental influence of contact with Europeans, with a resulting modification of their conditions of life, morality, and even language. The Paniyans of the Wynaad, and the Irulas of the Nīlgiris, now work regularly for wages on planters’ estates, and I have seen a Toda boy studying for the third standard instead of tending the buffaloes of his mand. A Toda lassie curling her ringlets with the assistance of a cheap German looking-glass; a Toda man smeared with Hindu sect marks, and praying for male offspring at a Hindu shrine; the abandonment of leafy garments in favour of imported cotton piece-goods; the employment of kerosine tins in lieu of thatch; the decline of the national turban in favour of the less becoming pork-pie cap or knitted nightcap of gaudy hue; the abandonment of indigenous vegetable dyes in favour of tinned anilin and alizarin dyes; the replacement of the indigenous peasant jewellery by imported beads and imitation jewellery made in Europe—these are a few examples of change resulting from Western and other influences.

The practice of human sacrifice, or Meriah rite, has been abolished within the memory of men still living, and replaced by the equally efficacious slaughter of a buffalo or sheep. And I have notes on a substituted ceremony, in which a sacrificial sheep is shaved so as to produce a crude representation of a human being, a Hindu sect mark painted on its forehead, a turban stuck on its head, and a cloth around its body. The picturesque, but barbaric ceremony of hook-swinging is now [xvi]regarded with disfavour by Government, and, some time ago, I witnessed a tame substitute for the original ceremony, in which, instead of a human being with strong iron hooks driven through the small of his back, a little wooden figure, dressed up in turban and body cloth, and carrying a shield and sabre, was hoisted on high and swung round.

In carrying out the anthropometric portion of the survey, it was unfortunately impossible to disguise the fact that I am a Government official, and very considerable difficulties were encountered owing to the wickedness of the people, and their timidity and fear of increased taxation, plague inoculation, and transportation. The Paniyan women of the Wynaad believed that I was going to have the finest specimens among them stuffed for the Madras Museum. An Irula man, on the Nīlgiri hills, who was wanted by the police for some mild crime of ancient date, came to be measured, but absolutely refused to submit to the operation on the plea that the height-measuring standard was the gallows. The similarity of the word Boyan to Boer was once fatal to my work. For, at the time of my visit to the Oddēs, who have Boyan as their title, the South African war was just over, and they were afraid that I was going to get them transported, to replace the Boers who had been exterminated. Being afraid, too, of my evil eye, they refused to fire a new kiln of bricks for the club chambers at Coimbatore until I had taken my departure. During a long tour through the Mysore province, the Natives mistook me for a recruiting sergeant bent on seizing them for employment in South Africa, and fled before my approach from town to town. The little spot, which I am in the habit of making with Aspinall’s white paint to indicate the position of the fronto-nasal suture and [xvii]bi-orbital breadth, was supposed to possess vesicant properties, and to blister into a number on the forehead, which would serve as a means of future identification for the purpose of kidnapping. The record of head, chest, and foot measurements, was viewed with marked suspicion, on the ground that I was an army tailor, measuring for sepoy’s clothing. The untimely death of a Native outside a town, at which I was halting, was attributed to my evil eye. Villages were denuded of all save senile men, women, and infants. The vendors of food-stuffs in one bazar, finding business slack owing to the flight of their customers, raised their prices, and a missionary complained that the price of butter had gone up. My arrival at one important town was coincident with a great annual temple festival, whereat there were not sufficient coolies left to drag the temple car in procession. So I had perforce to move on, and leave the Brāhman heads unmeasured. The head official of another town, when he came to take leave of me, apologised for the scrubby appearance of his chin, as the local barber had fled. One man, who had volunteered to be tested with Lovibond’s tintometer, was suddenly seized with fear in the midst of the experiment, and, throwing his body-cloth at my feet, ran for all he was worth, and disappeared. An elderly Municipal servant wept bitterly when undergoing the process of measurement, and a woman bade farewell to her husband, as she thought for ever, as he entered the threshold of my impromptu laboratory. The goniometer for estimating the facial angle is specially hated, as it goes into the mouth of castes both high and low, and has to be taken to a tank (pond) after each application. The members of a certain caste insisted on being measured before 4 P.M., so that they might have time to remove, by [xviii]ceremonial ablution, the pollution from my touch before sunset.

Such are a few of the unhappy results, which attend the progress of a Government anthropologist. I may, when in camp, so far as measuring operations are concerned, draw a perfect and absolute blank for several days in succession, or a gang of fifty or even more representatives of different castes may turn up at the same time, all in a hurry to depart as soon as they have been sufficiently amused by the phonograph, American series of pseudoptics (illusions), and hand dynamometer, which always accompany me on my travels as an attractive bait. When this occurs, it is manifestly impossible to record all the major, or any of the minor measurements, which are prescribed in ‘Anthropological Notes and Queries,’ and elsewhere. And I have to rest unwillingly content with a bare record of those measurements, which experience has taught me are the most important from a comparative point of view within my area, viz., stature, height and breadth of nose, and length and breadth of head, from which the nasal and cephalic indices can be calculated. I refer to the practical difficulties, in explanation of a record which is admittedly meagre, but wholly unavoidable, in spite of the possession of a good deal of patience and a liberal supply of cheroots, and current coins, which are often regarded with suspicion as sealing a contract, like the King’s shilling. I have even known a man get rid of the coin presented to him, by offering it, with flowers and a cocoanut, to the village goddess at her shrine, and present her with another coin as a peace-offering, to get rid of the pollution created by my money.

The manifold views, which have been brought forward as to the origin and place in nature of the [xix]indigenous population of Southern India, are scattered so widely in books, manuals, and reports, that it will be convenient if I bring together the evidence derived from sundry sources.

The original name for the Dravidian family, it may be noted, was Tamulic, but the term Dravidian was substituted by Bishop Caldwell, in order that the designation Tamil might be reserved for the language of that name. Drāvida is the adjectival form of Dravida, the Sanskrit name for the people occupying the south of the Indian Peninsula (the Deccan of some European writers).1

According to Haeckel,2 three of the twelve species of man—the Dravidas (Deccans; Sinhalese), Nubians, and Mediterranese (Caucasians, Basque, Semites, Indo-Germanic tribes)—“agree in several characteristics, which seem to establish a close relationship between them, and to distinguish them from the remaining species. The chief of these characteristics is the strong development of the beard which, in all other species, is either entirely wanting, or but very scanty. The hair of their heads is in most cases more or less curly. Other characteristics also seem to favour our classing them in one main group of curly-haired men (Euplocomi); at present the primæval species, Homo Dravida, is only represented by the Deccan tribes in the southern part of Hindustan, and by the neighbouring inhabitants of the mountains on the north-east of Ceylon. But, in earlier times, this race seems to have occupied the [xx]whole of Hindustan, and to have spread even further. It shows, on the one hand, traits of relationship to the Australians and Malays; on the other to the Mongols and Mediterranese. Their skin is either of a light or dark brown colour; in some tribes, of a yellowish brown. The hair of their heads is, as in Mediterranese, more or less curled; never quite smooth, like that of the Euthycomi, nor actually woolly, like that of the Ulotrichi. The strong development of the beard is also like that of the Mediterranese. Their forehead is generally high, their nose prominent and narrow, their lips slightly protruding. Their language is now very much mixed with Indo-Germanic elements, but seems to have been originally derived from a very primæval language.”

In the chapter devoted to ‘Migration and Distribution of Organisms,’ Haeckel, in referring to the continual changing of the distribution of land and water on the surface of the earth, says: “The Indian Ocean formed a continent, which extended from the Sunda Islands along the southern coast of Asia to the east coast of Africa. This large continent of former times Sclater has called Lemuria, from the monkey-like animals which inhabited it, and it is at the same time of great importance from being the probable cradle of the human race. The important proof which Wallace has furnished by the help of chronological facts, that the present Malayan Archipelago consists in reality of two completely different divisions, is particularly interesting. The western division, the Indo-Malayan Archipelago, comprising the large islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra, was formerly connected by Malacca with the Asiatic continent, and probably also with the Lemurian continent, and probably also with the Lemurian continent just mentioned. [xxi]The eastern division, on the other hand, the Austro-Malayan Archipelago, comprising Celebes, the Moluccas, New Guinea, Solomon’s Islands, etc., was formerly directly connected with Australia.”

An important ethnographic fact, and one which is significant, is that the description of tree-climbing by the Dyaks of Borneo, as given by Wallace,3 might have been written on the Anaimalai hills of Southern India, and would apply equally well in every detail to the Kādirs who inhabit those hills.4 An interesting custom, which prevails among the Kādirs and Mala Vēdans of Travancore, and among them alone, so far as I know, in the Indian Peninsula, is that of chipping all or some of the incisor teeth into the form of a sharp pointed, but not serrated, cone. The operation is said to be performed, among the Kādirs, with a chisel or bill-hook and file, on boys at the age of eighteen, and girls at the age of ten or thereabouts. It is noted by Skeat and Blagden5 that the Jakuns of the Malay Peninsula are accustomed to file their teeth to a point. Mr. Crawford tells us further that, in the Malay Archipelago, the practice of filing and blackening the teeth is a necessary prelude to marriage, the common way of expressing the fact that a girl has arrived at puberty being that she had her teeth filed. In an article6 entitled “Die Zauberbilderschriften der Negrito in Malaka,” Dr. K. T. Preuss describes in detail the designs on the bamboo combs, etc., of the Negritos of Malacca, and compares them with the strikingly similar designs on the bamboo combs worn by the Kādirs of Southern India. He works out in detail the theory that the design is not, as I called it7 [xxii]an ornamental geometric pattern, but consists of a series of hieroglyphics. It is noted by Skeat and Blagden8 that “the Semang women wore in their hair a remarkable kind of comb, which appears to be worn entirely as a charm against diseases. These combs were almost invariably made of bamboo, and were decorated with an infinity of designs, no two of which ever entirely agreed. It was said that each disease had its appropriate pattern. Similar combs are worn by the Pangan, the Semang and Sakai of Perak, and most of the mixed (Semang-Sakai) tribes.” I am informed by Mr. Vincent that, as far as he knows, the Kādir combs are not looked on as charms, and the markings thereon have no mystic significance. A Kādir man should always make a comb, and present it to his wife just before marriage or at the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, and the young men vie with each other as to who can make the nicest comb. Sometimes they represent strange articles on the combs. Mr. Vincent has, for example, seen a comb with a very good imitation of the face of a clock scratched on it.

In discussing the racial affinities of the Sakais, Skeat and Blagden write8 that “an alternative theory comes to us on the high authority of Virchow, who puts it forward, however, in a somewhat tentative manner. It consists in regarding the Sakai as an outlying branch of a racial group formed by the Vedda (of Ceylon), Tamil, Kurumba, and Australian races.... Of these the height is variable, but, in all four of the races compared, it is certainly greater than that of the Negrito races. The skin colour, again, it is true, varies to a remarkable degree, but the general hair character appears to be [xxiii]uniformly long, black and wavy, and the skull-index, on the other hand, appears to indicate consistently a dolichocephalic or long-shaped head.” Speaking of the Sakais, the same authorities state that “in evidence of their striking resemblance to the Veddas, it is perhaps worth remarking that one of the brothers Sarasin who had lived among the Veddas and knew them very well, when shown a photograph of a typical Sakai, at first supposed it to be a photograph of a Vedda.” For myself, when I first saw the photographs of Sakais published by Skeat and Blagden, it was difficult to realise that I was not looking at pictures of Kādirs, Paniyans, Kurumbas, or other jungle folk of Southern India.

It may be noted en passant, that emigration takes place at the present day from the southern parts of the Madras Presidency to the Straits Settlements. The following statement shows the number of passengers that proceeded thither during 1906:—

Madras— Total.
South Arcot Porto Novo 2,555
Cuddalore 583
Pondicherry 55
Tanjore Negapatam 238
Nagore 45,453
Karikal 3,422

“The name Kling (or Keling) is applied, in the Malay countries, to the people of Continental India who trade thither, or are settled in those regions, and to the descendants of settlers. The Malay use of the word is, as a rule, restricted to Tamils. The name is a form of Kalinga, a very ancient name for the region known as the Northern Circars, i.e., the Telugu coast of the Bay of Bengal.”9 It is recorded by Dr. N. Anandale that the [xxiv]phrase Orang Kling Islam (i.e., a Muhammadan from the Madras coast) occurs in Patani Malay. He further informs us10 that among the Labbai Muhammadans of the Madura coast, there are “certain men who make a livelihood by shooting pigeons with blow-guns. According to my Labbai informants, the ‘guns’ are purchased by them in Singapore from Bugis traders. There is still a considerable trade, although diminished, between Kilakarai and the ports of Burma and the Straits Settlements. It is carried on entirely by Muhammadans in native sailing vessels, and a large proportion of the Musalmans of Kilakarai have visited Penang and Singapore. It is not difficult to find among them men who can speak Straits Malay. The local name for the blow-gun is senguttān, and is derived in popular etymology from the Tamil sen (above) and kutu (to stab). I have little doubt that it is really a corruption of the Malay name of the weapon sumpitan.”

On the evidence of the very close affinities between the plants and animals in Africa and India at a very remote period, Mr. R. D. Oldham concludes that there was once a continuous stretch of dry land connecting South Africa and India. “In some deposits,” he writes,11 “found resting upon the Karoo beds on the coast of Natal, 22 out of 35 species of Mollusca and Echinodermata collected and specifically identified, are identical with forms found in the cretaceous beds of Southern India, the majority being Trichinopoly species. From the cretaceous rocks of Madagascar, six species of cretaceous fossils were examined by Mr. R. B. Newton in 1899, of which three are also found in the Ariyalur group (Southern India). The South African beds are clearly coast or [xxv]shallow water deposits, like those of India. The great similarity of forms certainly suggests continuity of coast line between the two regions, and thus supports the view that the land connection between South Africa and India, already shown to have existed in both the lower and upper Gondwána periods, was continued into cretaceous times.”

By Huxley12 the races of mankind are divided into two primary divisions, the Ulotrichi with crisp or woolly hair (Negros; Negritos), and the Leiotrichi with smooth hair; and the Dravidians are included in the Australoid group of the Leiotrichi “with dark skin, hair and eyes, wavy black hair, and eminently long, prognathous skulls, with well-developed brow ridges, who are found in Australia and in the Deccan.” There is, in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons’ Museum, an exceedingly interesting “Hindu” skull from Southern India, conspicuously dolichocephalic, and with highly developed superciliary ridges. Some of the recorded measurements of this skull are as follows:—

Length 19.6 cm.
Breadth 13.2 cm.
Cephalic index 67.3
Nasal height 4.8 cm.
Nasal breadth 2.5 cm.
Nasal index 52.1 cm.

Another “Hindu” skull, in the collection of the Madras Museum, with similar marked development of the superciliary ridges, has the following measurements:—

Length 18.4 cm.
Breadth 13.8 cm.
Cephalic index 75
Nasal height 4.9 cm.
Nasal breadth 2.1 cm.
Nasal index 42.8


I am unable to subscribe to the prognathism of the Dravidian tribes of Southern India, or of the jungle people, though aberrant examples thereof are contained in the collection of skulls at the Madras Museum, e.g., the skull of a Tamil man (caste unknown) who died a few years ago in Madras (Pl. I-a). The average facial angle of various castes and tribes which I have examined ranged between 67° and 70°, and the inhabitants of Southern India may be classified as orthognathous. Some of the large earthenware urns excavated by Mr. A. Rea, of the Archæological Department, at the “prehistoric” burial site at Aditanallūr in the Tinnevelly district,13 contained human bones, and skulls in a more or less perfect condition. Two of these skulls, preserved at the Madras Museum, are conspicuously prognathous (Pl. I-b). Concerning this burial site M. L. Lapieque writes as follows.14 “J’ai rapporté un specimen des urnes funéraires, avec une collection assez complète du mobilier funéraire. J’ai rapporté aussi un crâne en assez bon état, et parfaitement déterminable. Il est hyperdolichocéphale, et s’accorde avec la série que le service d’archéologie de Madras a déja réunie. Je pense que la race d’Adichanallour appartient aux Proto-Dravidiens.” The measurements of six of the most perfect skulls from Aditanallūr in the Madras Museum collection give the following results:—

Cephalic length, Cephalic breadth, Cephalic index.
cm. cm.
18.8 12.4 66.
19.1 12.7 66.5
18.3 12.4 67.8
18. 12.2 67.8
18. 12.8 77.1
16.8 13.1 78.

a. Skull of Tamil Man.

b. Skull From Aditanallur.


The following extracts from my notes show that the hyperdolichocephalic type survives in the dolichocephalic inhabitants of the Tamil country at the present day:—

Class Number examined. Cephalic index below 70.
Palli 40 64.4; 66.9; 67; 68.2; 68.9; 69.6.
Paraiyan 40 64.8; 69.2; 69.3; 69.5.
Vellāla 40 67.9; 69.6.

By Flower and Lydekker,15 a white division of man, called the Caucasian or Eurafrican, is made to include Huxley’s Xanthochroi (blonde type) and Melanochroi (black hair and eyes, and skin of almost all shades from white to black). The Melanochroi are said to “comprise the greater majority of the inhabitants of Southern Europe, North Africa, and South-west Asia, and consist mainly of the Aryan, Semitic, and Hamitic families. The Dravidians of India, the Veddahs of Ceylon, and probably the Ainus of Japan, and the Maoutze of China, also belong to this race, which may have contributed something to the mixed character of some tribes of Indo-China and the Polynesian islands, and have given at least the characters of the hair to the otherwise Negroid inhabitants of Australia. In Southern India they are largely mixed with a Negrito element, and, in Africa, where their habitat becomes coterminous with that of the Negroes, numerous cross-races have sprung up between them all along the frontier line.”

In describing the “Hindu type,” Topinard16 divides the population of the Indian peninsula into three strata, viz., the Black, Mongolian, and the Aryan. “The remnants of the first,” he says, “are at the present time [xxviii]shut up in the mountains of Central India under the name of Bhils, Mahairs, Ghonds, and Khonds; and in the south under that of Yenādis, Kurumbas, etc. Its primitive characters, apart from its black colour and low stature, are difficult to discover, but it is to be noticed that travellers do not speak of woolly hair in India.17 The second has spread over the plateaux of Central India by two lines of way, one to the north-east, the other to the north-west. The remnants of the first invasion are seen in the Dravidian or Tamil tribes, and those of the second in the Jhats. The third more recent, and more important as to quality than as to number, was the Aryan.” In speaking further of the Australian type, characterised by a combination of smooth hair with Negroid features, Topinard states that “it is clear that the Australians might very well be the result of the cross between one race with smooth hair from some other place, and a really Negro and autochthonous race. The opinions held by Huxley are in harmony with this hypothesis. He says the Australians are identical with the ancient inhabitants of the Deccan. The features of the present blacks in India, and the characters which the Dravidian and Australian languages have in common, tend to assimilate them. The existence of the boomerang in the two countries, and some remnants of caste in Australia, help to support the opinion.”

South Indian boomerangs.

South Indian boomerangs.

Of the so-called boomerangs of Southern India, the Madras Museum possesses three (two ivory, one wooden) from the Tanjore armoury (Pl. II). Concerning them, the Dewān of Pudukkōttai writes to me as follows. “The valari or valai tadi (bent stick) is a short weapon, generally made of some hard-grained wood. [xxix]It is also sometimes made of iron. It is crescent-shaped, one end being heavier than the other, and the outer end is sharpened. Men trained in the use of the weapon hold it by the lighter end, whirl it a few times over their shoulders to give it impetus, and then hurl it with great force against the object aimed at. It is said that there were experts in the art of throwing the valari, who could at one stroke despatch small game, and even man. No such experts are now forthcoming in the Pudukkōttai State, though the instrument is reported to be occasionally used in hunting hares, jungle fowl, etc. Its days, however, must be counted as past. Tradition states that the instrument played a considerable part in the Poligar wars of the last century. But it now reposes peacefully in the households of the descendants of the rude Kallan and Maravan warriors, preserved as a sacred relic of a chivalric past, along with other old family weapons in their pūja (worship) room, brought out and scraped and cleaned on occasions like the Ayudha pūja day (when worship is paid to weapons and implements of industry), and restored to its place of rest immediately afterwards.” At a Kallan marriage, the bride and bridegroom go to the house of the latter, where boomerangs are exchanged, and a feast is held. This custom appears to be fast becoming a tradition. But there is a common saying still current “Send the valai tadi, and bring the bride.”18

It is pointed out by Topinard,19 as a somewhat important piece of evidence, that, in the West, about Madagascar and the point of Aden in Africa, there are black tribes with smooth hair, or, at all events, large numbers of individuals who have it, mingled particularly [xxx]among the Somālis and the Gallas, in the region where M. Broca has an idea that some dark, and not Negro, race, now extinct, once existed. At the meeting of the British Association, 1898, Mr. W. Crooke gave expression to the view that the Dravidians represent an emigration from the African continent, and discounted the theory that the Aryans drove the aboriginal inhabitants into the jungles with the suggestion that the Aryan invasion was more social than racial, viz., that what India borrowed from the Aryans was manners and customs. According to this view, it must have been reforming aborigines who gained the ascendancy in India, rather than new-comers; and those of the aborigines who clung to their old ways got left behind in the struggle for existence.

In an article devoted to the Australians, Professor R. Semon writes as follows. “We must, without hesitation, presume that the ancestors of the Australians stood, at the time of their immigration to the continent, on a lower rung of culture than their living representatives of to-day. Whence, and in what manner, the immigration took place, it is difficult to determine. In the neighbouring quarter of the globe there lives no race, which is closely related to the Australians. Their nearest neighbours, the Papuans of New Guinea, the Malays of the Sunda Islands, and the Macris of New Zealand, stand in no close relationship to them. On the other hand, we find further away, among the Dravidian aborigines of India, types which remind us forcibly of the Australians in their anthropological characters. In drawing attention to the resemblance of the hill-tribes of the Deccan to the Australians, Huxley says: ‘An ordinary cooly, such as one can see among the sailors of any newly-arrived East India vessel, would, if stripped, [xxxi]pass very well for an Australian, although the skull and lower jaw are generally less coarse.’ Huxley here goes a little too far in his accentuation of the similarity of type. We are, however, undoubtedly confronted with a number of characters—skull formation, features, wavy curled hair—in common between the Australians and Dravidians, which gain in importance from the fact that, by the researches of Norris, Bleek, and Caldwell, a number of points of resemblance between the Australian and Dravidian languages have been discovered, and this despite the fact that the homes of the two races are so far apart, and that a number of races are wedged in between them, whose languages have no relationship whatever to either the Dravidian or Australian. There is much that speaks in favour of the view that the Australians and Dravidians sprang from a common main branch of the human race. According to the laborious researches of Paul and Fritz Sarasin, the Veddas of Ceylon, whom one might call pre-Dravidians, would represent an off-shoot from this main stem. When they branched off, they stood on a very low rung of development, and seem to have made hardly any progress worth mentioning.”

In dealing with the Australian problem, Mr. A. H. Keane20 refers to the time when Australia formed almost continuous land with the African continent, and to its accessibility on the north and north-west to primitive migration both from India and Papuasia. “That such migrations,” he writes, “took place, scarcely admits of a doubt, and the Rev. John Mathew21 concludes that the continent was first occupied by a homogeneous branch of the Papuan race either from New Guinea or Malaysia, [xxxii]and that these first arrivals, to be regarded as true aborigines, passed into Tasmania, which at that time probably formed continuous land with Australia. Thus the now extinct Tasmanians would represent the primitive type, which, in Australia, became modified, but not effaced, by crossing with later immigrants, chiefly from India. These are identified, as they have been by other ethnologists, with the Dravidians, and the writer remarks that ‘although the Australians are still in a state of savagery, and the Dravidians of India have been for many ages a people civilized in a great measure, and possessed of literature, the two peoples are affiliated by deeply-marked characteristics in their social system as shown by the boomerang, which, unless locally evolved, must have been introduced from India.’ But the variations in the physical characters of the natives appear to be too great to be accounted for by a single graft; hence Malays also are introduced from the Eastern Archipelago, which would explain both the straight hair in many districts, and a number of pure Malay words in several of the native languages.” Dealing later with the ethnical relations of the Dravidas, Mr. Keane says that “although they preceded the Aryan-speaking Hindus, they are not the true aborigines of the Deccan, for they were themselves preceded by dark peoples, probably of aberrant Negrito type.”

In the ‘Manual of Administration of the Madras Presidency,’ Dr. C. Macleane writes as follows. “The history proper of the south of India may be held to begin with the Hindu dynasties formed by a more or less intimate admixture of the Aryan and Dravidian systems of government. But, prior to that, three stages of historical knowledge are recognisable; first, as to such aboriginal period as there may have been prior [xxxiii]to the Dravidian; secondly, as to the period when the Aryans had begun to impose their religion and customs upon the Dravidians, but the time indicated by the early dynasties had not yet been reached. Geology and natural history alike make it certain that, at a time within the bounds of human knowledge, Southern India did not form part of Asia. A large southern continent, of which this country once formed part, has ever been assumed as necessary to account for the different circumstances. The Sanscrit Pooranic writers, the Ceylon Boodhists, and the local traditions of the west coast, all indicate a great disturbance of the point of the Peninsula and Ceylon within recent times.22 Investigations in relation to race show it to be by no means impossible that Southern India was once the passage-ground, by which the ancient progenitors of Northern and Mediterranean races proceeded to the parts of the globe which they now inhabit. In this part of the world, as in others, antiquarian remains show the existence of peoples who used successively implements of unwrought stone, of wrought stone, and of metal fashioned in the most primitive manner.23 These tribes have also left cairns and stone circles indicating burial places. It has been usual to set these down as earlier than Dravidian. But the hill Coorumbar of the Palmanair plateau, who are only a detached portion of the oldest known Tamulian [xxxiv]population, erect dolmens to this day. The sepulchral urns of Tinnevelly may be earlier than Dravidian, or they may be Dravidian.... The evidence of the grammatical structure of language is to be relied on as a clearly distinctive mark of a population, but, from this point of view, it appears that there are more signs of the great lapse of time than of previous populations. The grammar of the South of India is exclusively Dravidian, and bears no trace of ever having been anything else. The hill, forest, and Pariah tribes use the Dravidian forms of grammar and inflection.... The Dravidians, a very primeval race, take a by no means low place in the conjectural history of humanity. They have affinities with the Australian aborigines, which would probably connect their earliest origin with that people.” Adopting a novel classification, Dr. Macleane, in assuming that there are no living representatives in Southern India of any race of a wholly pre-Dravidian character, sub-divides the Dravidians into pre-Tamulian and Tamulian, to designate two branches of the same family, one older or less civilised than the other.

The importance, which has been attached by many authorities to the theory of the connection between the Dravidians and Australians, is made very clear from the passages in their writings, which I have quoted. Before leaving this subject, I may appropriately cite as an important witness Sir William Turner, who has studied the Dravidians and Australians from the standpoint of craniology.24 “Many ethnologists of great eminence,” he writes, “have regarded the aborigines of Australia as closely associated with the Dravidians of India. [xxxv]Some also consider the Dravidians to be a branch of the great Caucasian stock, and affiliated therefore to Europeans. If these two hypotheses are to be regarded as sound, a relationship between the aboriginal Australians and the European would be established through the Dravidian people of India. The affinities between the Dravidians and Australians have been based upon the employment of certain words by both people, apparently derived from common roots; by the use of the boomerang, similar to the well-known Australian weapon, by some Dravidian tribes; by the Indian peninsula having possibly had in a previous geologic epoch a land connection with the Austro-Malayan Archipelago, and by certain correspondences in the physical type of the two people. Both Dravidians and Australians have dark skins approximating to black; dark eyes; black hair, either straight, wavy or curly, but not woolly or frizzly; thick lips; low nose with wide nostrils; usually short stature, though the Australians are somewhat taller than the Dravidians. When the skulls are compared with each other, whilst they correspond in some particulars, they differ in others. In both races, the general form and proportions are dolichocephalic, but in the Australians the crania are absolutely longer than in the Dravidians, owing in part to the prominence of the glabella. The Australian skull is heavier, and the outer table is coarser and rougher than in the Dravidian; the forehead also is much more receding; the sagittal region is frequently ridged, and the slope outwards to the parietal eminence is steeper. The Australians in the norma facialis have the glabella and supra-orbital ridges much more projecting; the nasion more depressed; the jaws heavier; the upper jaw usually prognathous, sometimes remarkably so.” Of twelve Dravidian skulls [xxxvi]measured by Sir William Turner, in seven the jaw was orthognathous, in four, in the lower term of the mesognathous series; one specimen only was prognathic. The customary type of jaw, therefore, was orthognathic.25 The conclusion at which Sir William Turner arrives is that “by a careful comparison of Australian and Dravidian crania, there ought not to be much difficulty in distinguishing one from the other. The comparative study of the characters of the two series of crania has not led me to the conclusion that they can be adduced in support of the theory of the unity of the two people.”

The Dravidians of Southern India are divided by Sir Herbert Risley26 into two main groups, the Scytho-Dravidian and the Dravidian, which he sums up as follows:—

“The Scytho-Dravidian type of Western India, comprising the Marātha Brāahmans, the Kunbis and the Coorgs; probably formed by a mixture of Scythian and Dravidian elements, the former predominating in the higher groups, the latter in the lower. The head is broad; complexion fair; hair on face rather scanty; stature medium; nose moderately fine, and not conspicuously long.

“The Dravidian type extending from Ceylon to the valley of the Ganges, and pervading the whole of Madras, Hyderabad, the Central Provinces, most of Central India, and Chutia Nāgpur. Its most characteristic representatives are the Paniyans of the South Indian Hills and the Santals of Chutia Nāgpur. Probably the original type of the population of India, now modified to a varying extent by the admixture of Aryan, [xxxvii]Scythian, and Mongoloid elements. In typical specimens, the stature is short or below mean; the complexion very dark, approaching black; hair plentiful with an occasional tendency to curl; eyes dark; head long; nose very broad, sometimes depressed at the root, but not so as to make the face appear flat.”

It is, it will be noted, observed by Risley that the head of the Scytho-Dravidian is broad, and that of the Dravidian long. Writing some years ago concerning the Dravidian head with reference to a statement in Taylor’s “Origin of the Aryans,”27 that “the Todas are fully dolichocephalic, differing in this respect from the Dravidians, who are brachycephalic,” I published28 certain statistics based on the measurements of a number of subjects in the southern districts of the Madras Presidency. These figures showed that “the average cephalic index of 639 members of 19 different castes and tribes was 74.1; and that, in only 19 out of the 639 individuals, did the index exceed 80. So far then from the Dravidian being separated from the Todas by reason of their higher cephalic index, this index is, in the Todas, actually higher than in some of the Dravidian peoples.” Accustomed as I was, in my wanderings among the Tamil and Malayālam folk, to deal with heads in which the dolichocephalic or sub-dolichocephalic type preponderates, I was amazed to find, in the course of an expedition in the Bellary district (in the Canarese area), that the question of the type of the Dravidian head was not nearly so simple and straightforward as I had imagined. My records of head measurements now include a very large series taken in the plains in the Tulu, Canarese, Telugu, Malayālam, and Tamil areas, and [xxxviii]the measurements of a few Maratha (non-Dravidian) classes settled in the Canarese country. In the following tabular statement, I have brought together, for the purpose of comparison, the records of the head-measurements of representative classes in each of these areas:—

Class Language Number of subjects examined Cephalic Index Number of times index was 80 or above
Average Maximum, cm. Minimum, cm.
Sukun Sālē Marāthi 30 82.2 90.0 73.9 21
Suka Sālē Do. 30 81.8 88.2 76.1 22
Vakkaliga Canarese 50 81.7 93.8 72.5 27
Billava Tulu 50 80.1 91.5 71.0 27
Rangāri Marāthi 30 79.8 92.2 70.7 14
Agasa Canarese 40 78.5 85.7 73.2 13
Bant Tulu 40 78.0 91.2 70.8 12
Kāpu Telugu 49 78.0 87.6 71.6 16
Tota Balija Do. 39 78.0 86.0 73.3 10
Boya Do. 50 77.9 89.2 70.5 14
Dāsa Banajiga Canarese 40 77.8 86.2 72.0 11
Gāniga Do. 50 77.6 85.9 70.5 11
Golla Telugu 60 77.5 89.3 70.1 9
Kuruba Canarese 50 77.3 83.9 69.6 10
Bestha Telugu 60 77.1 85.1 70.5 9
Pallan Tamil 50 75.9 87.0 70.1 6
Mukkuvan Malayālam 40 75.1 83.5 68.6 2
Nāyar Do. 40 74.4 81.9 70.0 1
Vellāla Tamil 40 74.1 81.1 67.9 2
Agamudaiyan Do. 40 74.0 80.9 66.7 1
Paraiyan Do. 40 73.6 78.3 64.8
Palli Do. 40 73.0 80.0 64.4 1
Tiyan Malayālam 40 73.0 78.9 68.6

The difference in the character of the cranium is further brought out by the following tables, in which the [xxxix]details of the cephalic indices of typical classes in the five linguistic areas under consideration are recorded:—

(a) Tulu. Billava.

71 ◆◆
72 ◆◆
76 ◆◆◆
77 ◆◆◆◆◆
78 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
79 ◆◆
80 ◆◆ Average.
81 ◆◆◆
82 ◆◆◆◆◆
83 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
84 ◆◆◆◆
85 ◆◆◆◆

(b) Canarese. Vakkaliga.

75 ◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆◆
77 ◆◆
78 ◆◆◆◆◆
79 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
80 ◆◆
81 ◆◆◆
82 ◆◆◆ Average.
83 ◆◆◆
84 ◆◆
85 ◆◆◆
86 ◆◆◆ [xl]
87 ◆◆
88 ◆◆

(c) Telugu. Kāpu.

73 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
74 ◆◆
75 ◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
77 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
78 Average.
79 ◆◆◆◆
80 ◆◆◆◆
81 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
82 ◆◆
83 ◆◆◆

(d) Vellāla. Tamil.

71 ◆◆◆
72 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
73 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
74 ◆◆ Average.
75 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆
77 ◆◆◆◆
80 ◆◆


(e) Malayālam. Nāyar.

70 ◆◆
71 ◆◆◆◆◆
72 ◆◆◆◆◆
73 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
74 Average.
75 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆
77 ◆◆◆◆
78 ◆◆◆
79 ◆◆

These tables not only bring out the difference in the cephalic index of the classes selected as representative of the different areas, but further show that there is a greater constancy in the Tamil and Malayālam classes than in the Tulus, Canarese and Telugus. The number of individuals clustering round the average is conspicuously greater in the two former than in the three latter. I am not prepared to hazard any new theory to account for the marked difference in the type of cranium in the various areas under consideration, and must content myself with the observation that, whatever may have been the influence which has brought about the existing sub-brachycephalic or mesaticephalic type in the northern areas, this influence has not extended southward into the Tamil and Malayālam countries, where Dravidian man remains dolicho- or sub-dolichocephalic.

As an excellent example of constancy of type in the cephalic index, I may cite, en passant, the following [xlii]results of measurement of the Todas, who inhabit the plateau of the Nilgiri hills:—

69 ◆◆
70 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
71 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
72 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
73 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆ Average.
74 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
75 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆◆◆

I pass on to the consideration of the type of cranium among various Brāhman classes. In the following tables, the results of measurement of representatives of Tulu, Canarese, Marāthi, Tamil and Malayālam Brāhmans are recorded:—

Class Language Number of subjects examined Cephalic Index Number of times index was 80 or above
Average. Maximum. Minimum.
Shivalli Tulu 30 80.4 96.4 69.4 17
Mandya Canarese 50 80.2 88.2 69.8 31
Karnātaka Do. 60 78.4 89.5 69.8 19
Smarta (Dēsastha) Marāthi29 43 76.9 87.1 71 9
Tamil (Madras city) Tamil 40 76.5 84 69 3
Nambūtiri Malayālam30 76.3
Pattar Tamil31 25 74.5 81.4 69.1 2


(a) Tulu. Shivalli.

76 ◆◆◆◆
78 ◆◆◆
79 ◆◆◆
80 ◆◆ Average.
81 ◆◆◆
82 ◆◆◆◆
83 ◆◆
84 ◆◆

(b) Canarese. Karnātaka Smarta.

71 ◆◆
72 ◆◆
73 ◆◆
74 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
75 ◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆
77 ◆◆◆◆◆
78 ◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆◆ Average.
79 ◆◆ [xliv]
80 ◆◆◆◆◆
81 ◆◆◆◆
82 ◆◆◆◆
83 ◆◆
84 ◆◆
88 ◆◆

(c) Tamil. Madras City.

70 ◆◆
73 ◆◆
74 ◆◆◆
75 ◆◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆ Average.
77 ◆◆◆◆◆◆
78 ◆◆◆◆◆
79 ◆◆◆◆◆
80 ◆◆
82 ◆◆

(d) Tamil. Pattar.

69 ◆◆
71 ◆◆◆
72 ◆◆
73 ◆◆◆
74 Average.
75 ◆◆◆◆
76 ◆◆◆◆◆
79 ◆◆


Taking the evidence of the figures, they demonstrate that, like the other classes which have been analysed, the Brāhmans have a higher cephalic index, with a wider range, in the northern than in the southern area.

There is a tradition that the Shivalli Brāhmans of the Tulu country came from Ahikshetra. As only males migrated from their home, they were compelled to take women from non-Brāhman castes as wives. The ranks are said to have been swelled by conversions from these castes during the time of Srī Mādhvāchārya. The Shivalli Brāhmans are said to be referred to by the Bants as Mathumaglu or Mathmalu (bride) in allusion to the fact of their wives being taken from the Bant caste. Besides the Shivallis, there are other Tulu Brāhmans, who are said to be recent converts. The Matti Brāhmans were formerly considered low by the Shivallis, and were not allowed to sit in the same line with the Shivallis at meal time. They were only permitted to sit in a cross line, separated from the Shivallis, though in the same room. This was because the Matti Brāhmans were supposed to be Mogers (fishing caste) raised to Brāhmanism by one Vathirāja Swāmi, a Sanyāsi. Having become Brāhmans, they could not carry on their hereditary occupation, and, to enable them to earn a livelihood, the Sanyāsi gave them some brinjal (Solanum Melongena) seeds, and advised them to cultivate the plant. From this fact, the variety of brinjal, which is cultivated at Matti, is called Vathirāja gulla. At the present day, the Matti Brāhmans are on a par with the Shivalli Brāhmans, and have become disciples of the Sodhe mutt (religious institution) at Udipi. In some of the popular accounts of Brāhmans, which have been reduced to writing, it is stated that, during the time of Mayūra Varma of the Kadamba [xlvi]dynasty,32 some Āndhra Brāhmans were brought into South Canara. As a sufficient number of Brāhmans were not available for the purpose of yāgams (sacrifices), these Āndhra Brāhmans selected a number of families from the non-Brāhman caste, made them Brāhmans, and chose exogamous sept names for them. Of these names, Manōli (Cephalandra Indica), Pērala (Psidium Guyava), Kudire (horse), and Ānē (elephant) are examples.

A character, with which I am very familiar, when measuring the heads of all sorts and conditions of natives of Southern India, is the absence of convexity of the segment formed by the posterior portion of the united parietal bones. The result of this absence of convexity is that the back of the head, instead of forming a curve gradually increasing from the top of the head towards the occipital region, as in the European skull figured in plate IIIa, forms a flattened area of considerable length almost at right angles to the base of the skull as in the “Hindu” skull represented in plate IIIb. This character is shown in a marked degree in plate IV, which represents a prosperous Linga Banajiga in the Canarese country.

a. European Skull.

b. Hindu Skull.

In discussing racial admixture, Quatrefages writes as follows.33 “Parfois on trouve encore quelques tribus qui ont conservé plus on moins intacts tous les caractères de leur race. Les Coorumbas du Malwar [Malabar] et du Coorg paraissent former un noyau plus considérable encore, et avoir conservé dans les jungles de Wynaad une indépendence à peu près complète, et tous leurs [xlvii]caractères ethnologiques.” The purity of blood and ethnological characters of various jungle tribes are unhappily becoming lost as the result of contact metamorphosis from the opening up of the jungles for planter’s estates, and contact with more civilised tribes and races, both brown and white. In illustration, I may cite the Kānikars of Travancore, who till recently were in the habit of sending all their women into the seclusion of the jungle on the arrival of a stranger near their settlements. This is now seldom done, and some Kānikars have in modern times settled in the vicinity of towns, and become domesticated. The primitive short, dark-skinned and platyrhine type, though surviving, has become changed, and many leptorhine or mesorhine individuals above middle height are to be met with. The following are the results of measurements of Kānikars in the jungle, and at a village some miles from Trivandrum, the capital of Travancore:—

Stature cm. Nasal Index.
Av. Max. Min. Av. Max. Min.
Jungle 155.2 170.3 150.2 84.6 105 72.3
Domesticated 158.7 170.4 148 81.2 90.5 70.8

Some jungle Chenchus, who inhabit the Nallamalai hills in the Kurnool district, still exhibit the primitive short stature and high nasal index, which are characteristic of the unadulterated jungle tribes. But there is a very conspicuous want of uniformity in their physical characters, and many individuals are to be met with, above middle height, or tall, with long narrow noses. A case is recorded, in which a brick-maker married a Chenchu girl. And I was told of a Bōya man who [xlviii]had married into the tribe, and was living in a gudem (Chenchu settlement).

Stature cm. Nasal Index.
Av. Max. Min. Av. Max. Min.
162.5 175 149.6 81.9 95.7 68.1

By the dolichocephalic type of cranium which has persisted, and which the Chenchus possess in common with various other jungle tribes, they are still, as shown by the following table, at once differentiated from the mesaticephalic dwellers in the plains near the foot of the Nallamalais:—

Cephalic Index. Number of times the index was 80 or over.
40 Chenchus 74.3 1
60 Gollas 77.5 9
50 Bōyas 77.9 14
39 Tōta Balijas 78.0 10
49 Kāpus 78.8 16
19 Upparas 78.8 4
16 Mangalas 78.8 7
17 Verukalas 78.6 6
12 Mēdaras 80.7 8

In a note on the jungle tribes, M. Louis Lapicque,34 who carried out anthropometric observations in Southern India a few years ago, writes as follows. “Dans les montagnes des Nilghirris et d’Anémalé, situées au cœur [xlix]de la contrée dravidienne, on a signalé depuis longtemps des petits sauvages crépus, qu’on a même pensé pouvoir, sur des documents insuffisants, identifier avec les negritos. En réalité, it n’existe pas dans ces montagnes, ni probablement nulle part dans l’Inde, un témoin de la race primitive comparable, comme pureté, aux Andamanais ni même aux autres Negritos. Ce que l’on trouve là, c’est simplement, mais c’est fort précieux, une population métisse qui continue au delà du Paria la série générale de l’Inde. Au bord de la forêt vierge ou dans les collines partiellement défrichées, il y a des castes demi-Parias, demi-sauvages. La hiérachie sociale les classe au-dessous du Paria: on peut même trouver des groupes ou le facies nègre, nettement dessiné, est tout à fait prédominant. Ehbien, dans ces groupes, les chevelures sont en général frisées, et on en observe quelques-unes qu’on peut même appeler crépues. On a donc le moyen de prolonger par l’imagination la série des castes indiennes jusq’au type primitif qui était (nous n’avons plus qu’un pas à faire pour le reconstruire), un Nègre.... Nous sommes arrives à reconstituer les traits nègres d’un type disparu en prolongeant une série graduée de métis. Par la même méthode nous pouvons déterminer théoriquement la forme du crâne de ce type. Avec une assez grande certitude, je crois pouvoir affirmer, après de nombreuses mesures systématiques, que le nègre primitif de l’Inde était sousdolichocéphale avec un indice voisin de 75 ou 76. Sa taille, plus difficile à préciser, car les conditions de vie modifient ce caractère, devait être petite, plus haute pourtant que celle des Andamanais. Quant au nom qu’il convient de lui attribuer, la discussion des faits sociaux et linguistiques sur lesquels est fondée la notion de dravidien permet d’établir que ce nègre était antérieur aux dravidiens; [l]il faut done l’appeller Prédravidien, ou, si nous voulons lui donner un nom qui ne soit pas relatif à une autre population, on peut l’appeler Nègre Paria.”

In support of M. Lapicque’s statement that the primitive inhabitant was dolichocephalic or sub-dolichocephalic, I may produce the evidence of the cephalic indices of the various jungle tribes which I have examined in the Tamil, Malayālam, and Telugu countries:—

Cephalic Index.
Average. Maximum. Minimum.
Kadir 72.9 80.0 69.1
Irula, Chingleput 73.1 78.6 68.4
Kānikar 73.4 78.9 69.1
Mala Vēdan 73.4 80.9 68.8
Panaiyan 74.0 81.1 69.4
Chenchu 74.3 80.5 64.3
Shōlaga 74.9 79.3 67.8
Paliyan 75.7 79.1 72.9
Irula, Nilgiris 75.8 80.9 70.8
Kurumba 76.5 83.3 71.8

It is worthy of note that Haeckel defines the nose of the Dravidian as a prominent and narrow organ. For Risley has laid down35 that, in the Dravidian type, the nose is thick and broad, and the formula expressing the proportionate dimension (nasal index) is higher than in any known race, except the Negro; and that the typical Dravidian, as represented by the Mālē Pahāria, has a nose as broad in proportion to its length as the Negro, while this feature in the Aryan group can fairly bear comparison with the noses of sixty-eight Parisians, measured by Topinard, which gave an average of 69.4. [li]In this connection, I may record the statistics relating to the nasal indices of various South Indian jungle tribes:—

Nasal Index.
Average. Maximum. Minimum.
Paniyan 95.1 108.6 72.9
Kādir 89.8 115.4 72.9
Kurumba 86.1 111.1 70.8
Shōlaga 85.1 107.7 72.8
Mala Vēdan 84.9 102.6 71.1
Irula, Nīlgiris 84.9 100. 72.3
Kānikar 84.6 105. 72.3
Chenchu 81.9 95.7 68.1

In the following table, I have brought together, for the purpose of comparison, the average stature and nasal index of various Dravidian classes inhabiting the plains of the Telugu, Tamil, Canarese, and Malayālam countries, and jungle tribes:—

Linguistic area. Nasal Index. Stature.
Paniyan Jungle tribe 95.1 157.4
Kādir Do. 89.8 157.7
Kurumba Do. 86.1 157.9
Shōlaga Do. 85.1 159.3
Irula, Nīlgiris Do. 84.9 159.8
Mala Vēdan Do. 84.9 154.2
Kānikar Do. 84.6 155.2
Chenchu Do. 81.9 162.5
Pallan Tamil 81.5 164.3
Mukkuvan Malayālam 81. 163.1
Paraiyan Tamil 80. 163.1
Palli Do. 77.9 162.5
Gāniga Canarese 76.1 165.8
Bestha Telugu 75.9 165.7
Tīyan Malayālam 75. 163.7[lii]
Kuruba Canarese 74.9 162.7
Bōya Telugu 74.4 163.9
Tōta Balija Do. 74.4 163.9
Agasa Canarese 74.3 162.4
Agamudaiyan Tamil 74.2 165.8
Golla Telugu 74.1 163.8
Vellāla Tamil 73.1 162.4
Vakkaliga Canarese 73. 167.2
Dāsa Banajiga Do. 72.8 165.3
Kāpu Telugu 72.8 164.5
Nāyar Malayālam 71.1 165.2

This table demonstrates very clearly an unbroken series ranging from the jungle men, short of stature and platyrhine, to the leptorhine Nāyars and other classes.




In plate V are figured a series of triangles representing (natural size) the maxima, minima, and average nasal indices of Brāhmans of Madras city (belonging to the poorer classes), Tamil Paraiyans, and Paniyans. There is obviously far less connection between the Brāhman minimum and the Paraiyan maximum than between the Brāhman and Paraiyan maxima and the Paniyan average; and the frequent occurrence of high nasal indices, resulting from short, broad noses, in many classes has to be accounted for. Sir Alfred Lyall somewhere refers to the gradual Brāhmanising of the aboriginal non-Arayan, or casteless tribes. “They pass,” he writes, “into Brāhmanists by a natural upward transition, which leads them to adopt the religion of the castes immediately above them in the social scale of the composite population, among which they settle down; and we may reasonably guess that this process has been working for centuries.” In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Mr. H. A. Stuart states that “it has often been asserted, and is now the [liv]general belief, that the Brāhmans of the South are not pure Aryans, but are a mixed Aryan and Dravidian race. In the earliest times, the caste division was much less rigid than now, and a person of another caste could become a Brāhman by attaining the Brāhmanical standard of knowledge, and assuming Brāhmanical functions; and, when we see the Nambūdiri Brāhmans, even at the present day, contracting alliances, informal though they be, with the women of the country, it is not difficult to believe that, on their first arrival, such unions were even more common, and that the children born of them would be recognised as Brāhmans, though perhaps regarded as an inferior class. However, those Brāhmans, in whose veins mixed blood is supposed to run, are even to this day regarded as lower in the social scale, and are not allowed to mix freely with the pure Brāhman community.”

Popular traditions allude to wholesale conversions of non-Brāhmans into Brāhmans. According to such traditions, Rājas used to feed very large numbers of Brāhmans (a lakh of Brāhmans) in expiation of some sin, or to gain religious merit. To make up this large number, non-Brāhmans are said to have been made Brāhmans at the bidding of the Rājas. Here and there are found a few sections of Brāhmans, whom the more orthodox Brāhmans do not recognise as such, though the ordinary members of the community regard them as an inferior class of Brāhmans. As an instance may be cited the Mārakas of the Mysore Province. Though it is difficult to disprove the claim put forward by these people, some demur to their being regarded as Brāhmans.

Between a Brāhman of high culture, with fair complexion, and long, narrow nose on the one hand, and a less highly civilised Brāhman with dark skin and short broad nose on the other, there is a vast difference, which [lv]can only be reasonably explained on the assumption of racial admixture; and it is no insult to the higher members of the Brāhman community to trace, in their more lowly brethren, the result of crossing with a dark-skinned, and broad-nosed race of short stature. Whether the jungle tribe are, as I believe, the microscopic remnant of a pre-Dravidian people, or, as some hold, of Dravidians driven by a conquering race to the seclusion of the jungles, it is to the lasting influence of some such broad-nosed ancestor that the high nasal index of many of the inhabitants of Southern India must, it seems to me, be attributed. Viewed in the light of this remark, the connection between the following mixed collection of individuals, all of very dark colour, short of stature, and with nasal index exceeding 90, calls for no explanation:—

Stature. Nasal height. Nasal breadth. Nasal Index.
cm. cm. cm.
Vakkaliga 156 4.3 3.9 90.7
Mōger 160 4.3 3.9 90.7
Saiyad Muhammadan 160 4.4 4 90.9
Kammalan 154.4 4.4 4 90.9
Chakkiliyan 156.8 4.4 4 90.9
Vellāla 154.8 4.7 4.3 91.6
Malaiyāli 158.8 4 3.7 92.5
Konga Vellāla 157 4.1 3.8 92.7
Pattar Brāhman 157.6 4.2 3.9 92.9
Oddē 159.6 4.3 4 93
Smarta Brāhman 159 4.1 3.9 95.1
Palli 157.8 4.1 3.9 95.1
Pallan 155.8 4.2 4.2 100
Bestha 156.8 4.3 4.3 100
Mukkuvan 150.8 4 4 100
Agasa 156.4 4.3 4.3 100
Tamil Paraiyan 160 4 4.2 105


I pass on to a brief consideration of the languages of Southern India. According to Mr. G. A. Grierson36 “the Dravidian family comprises all the principal languages of Southern India. The name Dravidian is a conventional one. It is derived from the Sanskrit Dravida, a word which is again probably derived from an older Dramila, Damila, and is identical with the name of Tamil. The name Dravidian is, accordingly, identical with Tamulian, which name has formerly been used by European writers as a common designation of the languages in question. The word Dravida forms part of the denomination Andhra-Drāvida-bhāshā, the language of the Andhras (i.e., Telugu), and Dravidas (i.e., Tamilians), which Kumārila Bhatta (probably 7th Century A.D.) employed to denote the Dravidian family. In India Dravida has been used in more than one sense. Thus the so-called five Dravidas are Telugu, Kanarese, Marāthi, Gujarāti, and Tamil. In Europe, on the other hand, Dravidian has long been the common denomination of the whole family of languages to which Bishop Caldwell applied it in his Comparative Grammar, and there is no reason for abandoning the name which the founder of Dravidian philology applied to this group of speeches.”

The five principal languages are Tamil, Telugu, Malayālam, Canarese, and Oriya. Of these, Oriya belongs to the eastern group of the Indo-Aryan family, and is spoken in Ganjam, and a portion of the Vizagapatam district. The population speaking each of these languages, as recorded at the census, 1901, was as follows:—

Tamil 15,543,383
Telugu 14,315,304[lvii]
Malayālam 2,854,145
Oriya 1,809,336
Canarese 1,530,688

In the preparation of the following brief summary of the other vernacular languages and dialects, I have indented mainly on the Linguistic Survey of India, and the Madras Census Report, 1901.

Savara.—The language of the Savaras of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. One of the Mundā languages. Concerning the Mundā, linguistic family, Mr. Grierson writes as follows. “The denomination Mundā (adopted by Max Müller) was not long allowed to stand unchallenged. Sir George Campbell in 1866 proposed to call the family Kolarian. He was of opinion that Kol had an older form Kolar, which he thought to be identical with Kanarese Kallar, thieves. There is absolutely no foundation for this supposition. Moreover, the name Kolarian is objectionable, as seeming to suggest a connexion with Aryan which does not exist. The principal home of the Mundā languages at the present day is the Chota Nagpur plateau. The Mundā race is much more widely spread than the Mundā languages. It has already been remarked that it is identical with the Dravidian race, which forms the bulk of the population of Southern India.”

Gadaba.—Spoken by the Gadabas of Vizagapatam and Ganjam. One of the Mundā languages.

Kond, Kandhī, or Kui.—The language of the Kondhs of Ganjam and Vizagapatam.

Gōndi.—The language of the Gōnds, a tribe which belongs to the Central Provinces, but has overflowed into Ganjam and Vizagapatam.

Gattu.—A dialect of Gōndi, spoken by some of the Gōnds in Vizagapatam. [lviii]

Kōya or Kōi.—A dialect of Gōndi, spoken by the Kōyis in the Vizagapatam and Godāvari districts.

Poroja, Parjā, or Parjī.—A dialect of Gōndi.

Tulu.—The language largely spoken in South Canara (the ancient Tuluva). It is described by Bishop Caldwell as one of the most highly developed languages of the Dravidian family.

Koraga.—Spoken by the Koragas of South Canara. It is thought by Mr. H. A. Stuart37 to be a dialect of Tulu.

Bellera.—Spoken by the Belleras of South Canara, and regarded as a dialect of Canarese or Tulu.

Toda.—The language of the Todas of the Nilgiri hills, concerning which Dr. W. H. R. Rivers writes as follows.38 “Bernhard Schmid,39 who wrote in 1837, appears to have known more of the true Toda language than any one who has written since, and he ascribes two-thirds of the Toda vocabulary to Tamil, and was unable to trace the remaining third to any other language. Caldwell40 believed the language of the Todas to be most closely allied to Tamil. According to Pope,41 the language was originally old Canarese with the addition of a few Tamil forms, but he has included in his vocabulary words which have probably been borrowed from the Badagas.”

Kota.—A mixture of Canarese and Tamil spoken by the Kotas of the Nīlgiri hills.

Badaga.—The language of the Badagas of the Nīlgiri hills. Said to be an ancient form of Canarese. [lix]

Irula.—Spoken by the Irulas of the Nīlgiris, and said to be a dialect of Tamil. According to Mr. Stuart, Kasuba or Kasuva is another dialect of Tamil spoken by the sub-division of the Irulas which bears the same name.

Kurumba.—Spoken by the Kurumbas of the Nīlgiri hills, Malabar, and Mysore, and regarded as a dialect of Canarese.

Konkani.—A dialect of Marāthi, spoken almost entirely in the South Canara district by Sārasvat and Konkani Brāhmans and Roman Catholic Christians.

Marāthi.—In the Tanjore district, the descendants of the former Marātha Rajas of Tanjore speak this language. It is also spoken in the Bellary district, which was formerly under Marātha dominion, by various Marātha castes, and in the feudatory State of Sandūr.

Patnūli or Khatri.—A dialect of Gujarāti, spoken by the Patnūlkārans who have settled for the most part in the town of Madura. They are immigrants from Saurāshtra in Gujarāt, who are said to have come south at the invitation of the Nāyak kings of Madura.

Lambādi.—The language of the nomad Lambādis, Brinjāris, or Sugālis. It is described by Mr. W. Francis42 as a patois “usually based on one of the local vernaculars, and embroidered and diversified with thieves’ slang and expressions borrowed from the various localities in which the tribe has sojourned. Cust thought that Lambādi was Semi-Dravidian, but the point is not clear, and it has been classed as Indo-Aryan.”

Korava or Yerukala.—A dialect of Tamil spoken by the nomad caste bearing these names. Like the Lambādis, they have a thieves’ slang. [lx]

Vadāri.—Recorded as a vulgar Telugu dialect spoken by a wandering tribe of quarrymen in the Bombay Presidency, the Berars, and elsewhere. They are doubtless Oddēs or Wudder navvies, who have migrated from their home in the Telugu country. [lxi]


Head Measurements.

C. = Canarese. M. = Malayālam. Tam. = Tamil. Tu. = Tulu. J. = Jungle Tribe. Mar. = Marāthi. Tel. = Telugu.

No. Caste or Tribe. Length cm. Breadth cm. Index. Index 80 and over.
Av. Max. Min. Av. Max. Min. Av. Max. Min.
40 Badaga, Nīlgiris 18.9 20.2 18. 13.6 14.5 12.8 71.7 77.5 66.1 0
M. 18 Kānikar 18.8 19.5 18.2 13.6 14.2 13. 72.5 76.1 68.1 0
M. 40 Māppilla, Muhammadan 18.9 20. 18. 13.7 14.6 13. 72.8 78.5 68. 0
J. 23 Kādir 18.4 19.4 17.2 13.4 13.8 12.5 72.9 80. 69. 1
M. 40 Tiyan 18.9 20.3 17.8 13.7 14.9 12.6 73. 80.3 68.5 1[lxii]
Tam. 40 Palli 18.6 19.6 17.4 13.6 14.6 12.1 73. 80. 64.4 1
Tam. 40 Irula 18.5 19.6 17. 13.5 14.4 12.8 73.1 78.6 68.4 0
82 Toda, Nīlgiris 19.4 20.4 18.2 14.2 15.2 13.3 73.3 81.3 68.7 1
J. 20 Kāanikar 18.5 19.4 17.8 13.6 14.2 13. 73.4 78.9 69.1 0
Tam. 29 Ambattan 18.6 19.2 18. 13.7 14.6 12.5 73.4 76.9 67.2 0
J. 25 Mala Vēdan 18.5 19.6 17.4 13.6 14.6 13. 73.4 80.9 68.8 1
Tam. 40 Paraiyan 18.6 19.7 17. 13.7 14.5 13. 73.6 78.3 64.8 0
M. 25 Cheruman 18.3 19.3 17.1 13.5 14.2 12.3 73.9 80.1 67.7 1
M. 25 Paniyan 18.4 19.3 17.5 13.6 14.9 13. 74. 81.1 69.4 1
Tam. 40 Agamudaiyan 18.8 20. 17.8 13.9 14.6 12.8 74. 80.9 66.7 1[lxiii]
25 Kota, Nīlgiris 19.2 20.2 18.3 14.2 15.1 13.4 74.1 79.1 69.9 0
Tam. 40 Vellāla 18.6 19.6 17.7 13.8 14.6 13.1 74.1 81.1 67.9 2
Tam. 20 Smarta Brāhman 18. 19.2 17.8 14. 14.8 13. 74.2 80.4 67.8 1
Tam. 50 Malaiyāli 18.3 19.3 17. 13.6 14.4 12.8 74.3 82.8 61. 2
J. 40 Chenchu 18.2 19.6 17.2 13.5 14.4 12.4 74.3 80.5 64.3 1
M. 40 Nāyar 18.7 19.8 17.4 13.9 15. 13.2 74.4 81.9 70.4 1
Tam. 25 Pattar Brāhman 18.8 20.3 17.2 14. 15.1 13.1 74.5 81.4 69.1 2
Tam. 23 Malasar 18.2 19.2 17.3 13.5 14.4 12.4 74.5 80. 70. 1
J. 57 Urāli 18.2 19.3 17.2 13.5 14.4 12.8 74.6 81.9 69.8 1
Tam. 50 Chakkiliyan 18.6 19.8 17.6 13.9 15.2 13. 74.9 80.9 70.4 1
J. 20 Shōlaga 18.2 19.4 17.2 13.6 14.6 12.2 74.9 79.3 67.8 0
Tel. 30 Mādiga, Adoni 18.6 20.2 17. 13.9 14.6 13. 75. 82.2 71.3 2
Tam. 40 Kammālan 18.4 19.7 17.3 13.7 14.7 13.1 75. 81.5 68.4 5
M. 40 Mukkuvan 19. 20.4 17.6 14.2 15.2 13.4 75.1 83.5 68.6 2
Tam. 40 Sheik Muhammadan 18.3 20. 16.7 13.8 14.5 12.8 75.6 81.6 71.5 2[lxiv]
C. 50 Dāyarē Muhammadan 18.5 19.7 17. 14. 15. 13. 75.6 83.3 68.5 8
Tam. 40 Saiyad Muhammadan 18.5 19.6 17.2 14. 15. 13.1 75.6 84.9 68.2 2
J. 26 Paliyan 17.8 18.6 17.1 13.5 14. 13. 75.7 79.1 72.8 0
J. 25 Irula 18. 19.1 17. 13.7 14.3 13.1 75.8 80.9 70.8 1
Tam. 50 Pallan 18.3 19.6 17.2 13.9 14.9 12.6 75.9 87. 70.1 6
Tam. 42 Idaiyan 18.3 19. 16.8 14. 14.6 13.2 76. 81.9 71.3 5
Tam. 40 Pathān Muhammadan 18.5 19.6 17.2 14.2 15.2 13.3 76.2 83.1 71.1 2
M. 24 Pulayan 18.3 19.3 17. 13.9 15. 13. 76.3 83. 72.3 5
J. 22 Kurumba 17.9 18.7 16.9 13.7 14.5 13. 76.4 83.3 71.8 2
Tel. 40 Mādiga, Hospet 18.3 20. 17.2 14. 15.4 13. 76.5 83.3 68. 8[lxv]
C. 50 Sēdan 18.4 19.4 17. 14.1 14.8 13.2 76.6 82.6 72.6 7
C. 40 Toreya 18.3 19.2 17.2 14.1 15.2 13. 76.6 86.4 70.2 5
Mar. 24 Dēsastha Brāhman 18.7 20.2 18. 14.4 15.2 13.2 77. 83.4 71. 4
Tel. 30 Māla 18.4 19.8 16.8 14.2 14.8 13.4 77.1 85.9 70.3 6
Tel. 60 Bestha 18.4 19.4 16.6 14.2 15.6 13.2 77.1 85.1 70.5 11
C. 50 Kuruba, Mysore 18.1 19.4 17.2 14. 15. 12.8 77.3 83.9 70.3 9
Tel. 40 Oddē 18.2 20.4 17.2 14.1 15.2 13.4 77.3 83.1 70.1 10
Tel. 60 Golla 18.2 19.6 16.4 14.1 15.1 13.2 77.5 89.3 70.1 12
C. 40 Dāsa Banajiga 18.6 19.8 17.3 14.4 15.6 13.4 77.8 85.5 72. 11
Tel. 25 Kōmati, Adoni 18.2 19.4 17. 14.3 15.2 13.3 77.9 88.2 72.2 8
C. 40 Okkiliyan, Coimbatore 18.2 19.4 17. 14.2 15.2 13.2 77.9 88.2 71.7 9
C. 50 Bōya 18. 19.2 16.8 14. 15.2 13. 77.9 89.2 70.5 14
Tu. 40 Bant 18.5 20. 17. 14.4 16.6 13.1 78. 91.2 70.8 12
Tel. 49 Kāpu 18.2 19.8 16.8 14.2 15.6 13.2 78. 87.6 71.6 16
Tel. 39 Tōta Balija 18.1 19. 17. 14.1 15. 13. 78. 86. 73.3 10[lxvi]
C. 60 Mādhva Brahman 18.4 19.8 16.6 14.3 15.2 13.2 78. 88.5 68. 18
C. 40 Bēdar, Hospet 18.4 20. 16.8 14.3 15.2 13.2 78.1 85.3 70.8 13
Tel. 38 Uppara 18. 19. 16.2 14. 15.2 13.2 78.1 87.8 71.7 9
C. 25 Linga Banajiga, Sandūr 18.2 19.4 16.6 14.2 15. 13.4 78.3 87.9 73.7 7
C. 60 Karnataka Smarta Brāhman 18.5 20.7 17. 14.4 15.8 13.4 78.4 89.5 69.8 19
Tel. 30 Padma Sālē 17.8 19. 16.5 14.1 15.1 13.2 78.7 86.2 72.8 10
C. 50 Kuruba, Hospet 18.1 19.6 17. 14.2 15.4 13.4 78.9 88.4 72.9 19
Tel. 50 Telugu Banajiga 18.4 19.2 16.6 14.5 15.4 13.2 79. 89.5 71.9 18
C. 50 Panchāla 18.3 19.4 17.2 14.4 15.6 13. 79. 89.5 71.3 23
C. 50 Holeya 17.9 19.6 16.6 14.1 15.2 13.2 79.1 87.4 70. 20[lxvii]
C. 25 Bēdar, Adoni 18.1 19.2 17. 14.4 15. 13.6 79.4 85.9 74.1 12
Mar. 30 Rangāri 18.1 19.8 16.8 14.5 15.4 13.8 79.8 92.2 70.7 14
Tel. 25 Togata 17.7 19. 16.2 14.2 14.8 13.6 80. 88.1 73.7 13
Tu. 50 Billava 18.2 20.6 16.4 14.6 15.6 13.2 80.1 91.5 71. 28
C. 30 Linga Banajiga, Adoni 18.1 19.4 16.7 14.4 15.2 13.6 80.1 87.4 74.1 14
C. 50 Hebbar Brāhman 18.4 19.6 17.2 14.7 16.4 13.4 80.1 92.1 72.8 21
C. 50 Mandya Brāhman 18.5 20.2 16.6 14.8 15.8 13.4 80.2 88.2 69.8 31
Tu. 30 Shivalli Brāhman 18.5 19.6 16.8 14.9 16.2 13.6 80.4 96.4 72.3 17
C. 20 Gāniga 18. 19.1 16.6 14.4 15.2 14. 80.5 86.7 74.5 11
C. 20 Dēvānga 18. 19.6 17. 14.5 15.5 13.6 80.8 87.1 74.7 10
Tel. 25 Kōmati 17.6 18.8 16.4 14.3 14.8 13.4 81. 87.1 74.5 16
C. 50 Vakkaliga, Mysore 17.7 19.5 15.8 14.5 15.7 13.2 81.7 93.8 72.5 27
Mar. 30 Suka Sālē 17.7 18.8 16.6 14.5 15. 13.4 81.8 88.2 76.1 22
Mar. 30 Sukūn Sālē 17.6 19. 16. 14.4 15.4 13.6 82.2 90. 73.9 21



Stature and Nasal Index.

No. Caste or Tribe. Stature cm. Nasal Index.
Av. Max. Min. Av. Max. Min.
M. 40 Nāyar 165.2 179. 152.2 71.1 78.7 54.4
C. 50 Hebbar Brāhman 163.2 174.4 150.8 71.2 87.2 55.4
C. 60 Karnataka Smarta Brāhman 164.2 176. 150.6 71.5 91.5 61.1
C. 50 Dāyarē Muhammadan 166.4 181.8 150. 71.5 82.6 59.3
Mar. 60 Mādhva Brāhman 163.3 176.2 151.8 72. 93.2 58.8
Tu. 40 Bant 165.7 179.2 155.8 72.2 86.1 61.6
Tam. 40 Sheik Muhammadan 164.6 174.8 153.8 72.4 87. 60.
Tam. 29 Ambattan 165.7 173.2 153.2 72.4 84.3 57.9[lxix]
Tu. 50 Billava 163.2 175.8 149.4 72.6 92.8 60.
C. 50 Sēdan 163.3 177.2 153.2 72.7 92.9 59.3
C. 40 Dāsa Banajiga 165.3 177.8 152. 72.8 82.6 59.3
Tel. 49 Kāpu 164.5 177.6 152.6 72.8 90.5 62.7
C. 50 Mandya Brāhman 165.7 177.8 150.6 73. 97.8 58.4
C. 50 Vakkaliga, Mysore 167.2 181. 155.2 73. 85. 62.3
Tam. 40 Vellāla 162.4 172.8 153.2 73.1 91.5 60.8
Tel. 30 Padma Sālē 159.9 171.4 153.8 73.2 83.7 61.5
C. 40 Okkiliyan 166. 179.6 154.6 73.5 90.7 63.5
C. 50 Kuruba, Mysore 163.6 174.2 152. 73.5 88.4 64.
Mar. 30 Rangāri 161.3 168.4 154.4 73.6 84.1 63.5
Tam. 42 Idaiyan 164.3 178. 154.6 73.6 91. 62.7
Tel. 25 K mati, Sandūr 162.5 169.2 153.4 74.1 88.9 62.5
C. 30 Linga Banajiga 163.4 171.2 154. 74.1 85.7 60.4
Tel. 60 Golla 163.8 173.8 151. 74.1 83. 61.5[lxx]
M. 40 Tiyan 164.2 171.6 155.2 74.2 85.7 61.5
Tam. 40 Agamudaiyan 165.8 175.6 153.6 74.2 88.9 73.8
Tel. 39 Tōta Balija 163.9 176.8 149.6 74.4 83. 65.4
C. 25 Linga Banajiga, Sandūr 165.6 173. 157.8 74.6 86.4 61.5
Mar. 30 Sukūn Sālē 160.3 167.6 152.5 74.8 84.4 61.5
Mar. 30 Suka Sālē 161.1 170. 147.8 74.8 86.1 62.3
C. 50 Panchāla 162.3 177.2 151.6 74.8 88.9 62.
C. 50 Kuruba, Hospet 162.7 175.4 162.2 74.9 92.2 75.8
.. 82 Toda, Nīlgiris 169.8 186.8 157.6 74.9 89.1 61.2
C. 50 Bōya 160.8 171.6 151.9 75. 86. 66.[lxxi]
Tel. 50 Telugu Banajiga 164.6 176.2 151.6 75. 97.7 66.
M. 40 Māppilla, Muhammadan 164.8 174.4 145. 75.1 88.1 64.
C. 50 Holeya 162.8 175.2 151.5 75.1 88.9 64.6
... 40 Badaga, Nīlgiris 164.1 180.2 154. 75.6 88.4 62.7
Mar. 24 Dēsastha Brāhman 163.4 175. 151.4 75.8 87.2 66.7
Tel. 60 Bestha 165.7 181. 155. 75.9 100. 63.3
C. 30 Toreya 164.2 180.6 156.4 76.1 87.2 62.7
Tel. 30 Māla 163.9 175. 153.8 76.2 93.2 67.3
Tam. 40 Pathān Muhammadan 164.4 177.6 155.6 76.2 83.1 71.1
Tam. 25 Pattar Brāhman 164.3 175. 153.4 76.5 95.3 64.7
... 25 Kota, Nīlgiris 162.9 174.2 155. 77.2 92.9 64.
Tam. 40 Palli 162.5 171.6 149.8 77.3 90.5 68.3
Tam. 40 Kammālan 159.7 171.8 146.4 77.3 90.9 63.3
Tel. 40 Oddē 164.4 172.4 155. 77.3 93. 65.4
C. 40 Bēdar, Hospet 165.4 176.6 156. 77.5 93. 78.1[lxxii]
Tel. 40 Mādiga, Hospet 162.9 173.4 152.2 77.5 90.1 66.7
Tel. 30 Togata 160.5 168.9 151.4 77.5 93.9 68.8
Tam. 50 Malaiyāli 163.9 173.2 153.2 77.8 100. 63.8
Tel. 25 Kōmati, Adoni 161. 168.3 153.2 77.8 100. 65.3
Tam. 40 Palli 162.5 169.4 151. 77.9 95.1 60.8
M. 25 Cheruman 157.5 166.4 145.8 78.1 88.9 69.6
Tam. 50 Chakkiliyan 162.2 174.5 150.3 78.9 97.6 64.
M. 24 Pulayan 153. 162.6 143.4 79.3 92.7 68.
C. 25 Bēdar, Adoni 165.4 176.2 156.6 79.4 91. 65.2
Tam. 40 Paraiyan 162.1 171.4 149.4 80. 91.8 66.[lxxiii]
J. 57 Urali 159.5 171.6 147.8 80.1 97.7 66.7
Tam. 40 Irula 159.9 166.8 150.2 80.4 90.5 79.
Tel. 30 Mādiga, Adoni 163.1 173.2 154.2 80.8 102.6 69.4
M. 40 Mukkuvan 163.1 177.8 150.8 81. 104.8 62.5
M. 18 Kānikar 158.7 170.4 148. 81.2 90.5 70.8
Tam. 50 Pallan 164.3 177.6 151.5 81.5 100. 68.8
J. 40 Chenchu 162.5 175. 148. 81.9 95.7 68.1
J. 26 Pulayan 150.5 158.4 143.1 82.9 100.2 70.8
J. 20 Kānikar 155.2 170.3 150.2 84.6 105. 72.3
J. 25 Mala Vēdan 154.2 163.8 140.8 84.9 102.6 71.1
J. 25 Irula 159.8 168. 152. 84.9 100. 72.3
J. 20 Shōlaga 159.3 170.4 151.2 85.1 107.7 72.8
J. 22 Kurumba 158. 167. 149.6 86.1 111.1 70.8
J. 23 Malasar 161.2 170.5 152.8 87.2 102.4 75.4
J. 23 Kādir 157.7 169.4 148.6 89.8 115.4 72.9
J. 25 Paniyan 157.4 171.6 152. 95.1 108.6 72.9


1 “Deccan, Hind, Dakhin, Dakhan; dakkina, the Prakr. form of Sskt. dakshina, ‘the south.’ The southern part of India, the Peninsula, and especially the table-land between the Eastern and Western Ghauts.” Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

2 History of Creation.

3 Malay Archipelago, 1890.

4 See article Kādir.

5 Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula, 1906.

6 Globus, 1899.

7 Madras Museum Bull., II, 3, 1899.

8 Op. cit.

9 Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

10 Mem. Asiat. Soc., Bengal, Miscellanea Ethnographica, 1, 1906.

11 Manual of the Geology of India, 2nd edition, 1893.

12 Anatomy of Vertebrated Animals, 1871.

13 See Annual Report, Archæological Survey of India, 1902–03.

14 Bull, Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, 1905.

15 Introduction to the Study of Mammals, living and extinct, 1891.

16 Anthropology. Translation, 1894.

17 I have only seen one individual with woolly hair in Southern India, and he was of mixed Tamil and African parentage.

18 See article Maravan.

19 Op. cit.

20 Ethnology, 1896.

21 Proc. R. Soc. N. S. Wales, XXIII, part III.

22 “It is evident that, during much of the tertiary period, Ceylon and South India were bounded on the north by a considerable extent of sea, and probably formed part of an extensive southern continent or great island. The very numerous and remarkable cases of affinity with Malaya require, however, some closer approximation to these islands, which probably occurred at a later period.” Wallace. Geographical Distribution of Animals, 1876.

23 See Breeks, Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilgiris; Phillips, Tumuli of the Salem district; Rea, Prehistoric Burial Places in Southern India; R. Bruce Foote, Catalogues of the Prehistoric Antiquities in the Madras Museum, etc.

24 Contributions to the Craniology of the People of the Empire of India, Part II. The aborigines of Chūta Nāgpur, and of the Central Provinces, the People of Orissa, Veddahs and Negritos, 1900.

25 Other cranial characters are compared by Sir William Turner, for which I would refer the reader to the original article.

26 The People of India, 1908.

27 Contemporary Science Series.

28 Madras Museum Bull., II, 3, 1899.

29 The cephalic indices of various Brāhman classes in the Bombay Presidency, supplied by Sir H. Risley, are as follows:—Dēsastha, 76.9; Kokanasth, 77.3; Sheni or Saraswat, 79; Nagar, 79.7.

30 Measured by Mr. F. Fawcett.

31 The Pattar Brāhmans are Tamil Brāhmans, settled in Malabar.

32 According to the Brāhman chronology, Mayūra Varma reigned from 455 to 445 B.C., but his probable date was about 750 A.D. See Fleet, Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts of the Bombay Presidency, 1882–86.

33 Histoire générale des Races Humaines, 1889.

34 Les Nègres d’Asie, et la race Nègre en général. Revue Scientifique, VI July, 1906.

35 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, 1891.

36 Linguistic Survey of India, IV, 1906.

37 Manual of the South Canara district.

38 The Todas, 1906.

39 Madras Journ., Lit. and Sci., V., 1837.

40 Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian Languages. 2nd Ed., 1875.

41 Outlines of the Toda Grammar appended to Marshall’s Phrenologist among the Todas.

42 Madras Census Report, 1901.

Castes and Tribes of Southern India.



Abhishēka.—Abhishēka Pandārams are those who are made to pass through some ceremonies in connection with Saiva Āgama.

Acchu Tāli.—A sub-division of Vāniyan. The name refers to the peculiar tāli (marriage badge) worn by married women.

Acchuvāru.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “Oriya-speaking carriers of grain, etc., on pack bullocks. Treated as a sub-division of Gaudo.” The Acchuvārus are not Oriya people, but are attached to the Dēvānga weavers, and receive their name from the fact that they do acchupani, i.e., thread the long comb-like structures of the hand-loom. They correspond to the Jātipillais of the Kaikōlan weavers, who do acchuvēlai.

Acchu Vellāla.—A name assumed by some Pattanavans.

Achan.—Achan, meaning father or lord, was returned, at the Cochin census, 1901, as a title of Nāyars. According to Mr. Wigram1 it is used as a title of the following:—

1. Males in the Royal Family of Palghāt. [2]

2. The minister of the Calicut Rāja, known as Mangāt Achan.

3. The minister of the Cochin Rāja, known as Paliyat Achan.

4. The minister of the second Rāja of Calicut, known as Chenli Achan.

Acharapākam Chetti.—One of the sub-divisions of the Chettis, generally grouped among the Bēri Chettis (q.v.).

Āchāri.—See Āsāri.

Adapadava (man of the wallet).—A name, referring to the dressing-bag which barbers carry, applied to Lingāyat barbers in South Canara.

Ādapāpa.—Returned in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub-caste of Balija. The name is applied to female attendants on the ladies of the families of Zamindars, who, as they are not allowed to marry, lead a life of prostitution. Their sons call themselves Balijas (see Khāsa).

Adavi (forest or jungle).—The name of a sub-division of Yānādis, and also of a section of Gollas in Mysore.2

Adaviyar.—Adaviyar or Ataviyar is the name of a class of Tamil-speaking weavers found in the Tanjore and Tinnevelly districts.

Addāku (Bauhinia racemosa).—A sept of Jātapu. The leaves of this tree are largely used as food platters, in Madras, and generally on the east coast.

Addapu Singa.—Mendicants who beg only from Mangalas in the Telugu country.

Adhigāri.—Defined by Mr. Wigram3 as the head of the amsam or parish in Malabar, corresponding to the Manigar (village munsiff) in east coast districts and [3]Patēl in South Canara. The title Adhigāri (one in power) is assumed by some Agamudaiyans, and Adhikāri occurs as an exogamous sept of the Badagas, and the title of village headman among some Oriya castes. In South Canara, it is a sept of Stānika.

Ādi (primitive or original).—The name of a division of Linga Balijas, and of Velamas who have abandoned the practice of keeping their females gōsha (in seclusion). It is also applied by the Chenchus to the original members of their tribe, from whom the man-lion Narasimha obtained his bride Chenchita.

Adichchan.—A sub-division of Nāyar.

Adikal (slaves or servants).—Included among the Ambalavāsis. It is recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, that “tradition states that Sankarāchārya, to test the fidelity of certain Brahmins to the established ordinances of caste, went to a liquor-shop, and drank some stimulants. Not recognising that the obligations, from which adepts like Sankara were free, were none the less binding on the proletariat, the Brahmins that accompanied the sage made this an excuse for their drinking too. Sankara is said to have then entered a foundry, and swallowed a cup of molten metal, and handed another to the Brahmins, who had apparently made up their minds to do all that may be done by the Āchārya. But they begged to differ, apologised to him as Atiyāls or humble servants, and accepted social degradation in expiation of their sinful presumption. They are now the priests in temples dedicated to Bhadrakāli, and other goddesses who receive offerings of liquor. They practise sorcery, and aid in the exorcising of spirits. They have the upanayana-samskāra, and wear the sacred thread. The sīmantam ceremony is not performed. They are to repeat the Gāyatri (hymn) ten times, and observe eleven [4]days’ death pollution. Their own caste-men act as priests. The Atiyammamar wear the same jewellery as the Nambūtiri women, but they do not screen themselves by a cadjan (palm leaf) umbrella when they go out in public, nor are they accompanied by a Nāyar maid.”

Adimittam.—An occupational sub-division of Mārāns, who clean the court-yards of temples in Travancore.

Ādisaivar.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a sub-caste of Vellāla. They are singers of Dēvāra hymns in Saiva temples.” The name indicates those who have been Saivites from the beginning, as opposed to recent Saivites. Ādisaivas are Saivites, who have survived the absorbing influence of the Lingayat sect. Saivites who profess the Lingāyat doctrines are known as Vīrasaivas. Some Pandārams, who belong to the Sōzhia sub-division of the Vellālas, regularly recite Tamil verses from Thēvāram and Tiruvāchagam in Saivite temples. This being their profession, they are also called Ōduvar (readers or reciters).

Āditya Vārada.—Kurubas, who worship their God on Sunday.

Adiyān.—Adiyān (adi, foot) has been defined4 as meaning literally “a slave, but usually applied to the vassals of Tamburans and other powerful patrons. Each Adiyān had to acknowledge his vassalage by paying annually a nuzur (gift of money) to his patron, and was supposed also to be ready to render service whenever needed. This yearly nuzur, which did not generally exceed one or two fanams, was called adima-panam” (slave money), adima meaning feudal dependency on a patron. [5]

Adiyōdi.—Adiyōdi or Atiyōti, meaning slave or vassal, has been returned at times of census as a sub-division of Sāmantan. It is, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,5 “the caste of the Kadattanād Rājah in North Malabar. The tradition is that, when he was driven out of his territories in and around Calicut by the Zamorin, he took shelter under the Rājah of Chirakkal, who gave him the Kadattanād country to hold as his vassal. Some Atiyōtis advance no pretension to be above Nāyars in rank.”

Aduttōn (a bystander).—A synonym for Kāvutiyan, a caste of Malayālam barbers. In like manner, the name Ambattan for Tamil barbers is said to be derived from the Sanskrit amba (near), s’tha (to stand), indicating that they stand near to shave their clients or treat their patients.

Agamudaiyan.—The Agamudaiyans, Mr. W. Francis writes,6 are “a cultivating caste found in all the Tamil districts. In Chingleput, North Arcot, Salem, Coimbatore and Trichinopoly, they are much less numerous than they were thirty years ago. The reason probably is that they have risen in the social scale, and have returned themselves as Vellālas. Within the same period, their strength has nearly doubled in Tanjore, perhaps owing to the assumption of the name by other castes like the Maravans and Kallans. In their manners and customs they closely follow the Vellālas. Many of these in the Madura district are the domestic servants of the Marava Zamindars.” The Agamudaiyans who have settled in the North Arcot district are described7 by Mr. H. A. Stuart as “a class of cultivators differing widely from the Agamudaiyans of the Madura district. [6]The former are closely allied to the Vellālas, while the latter are usually regarded as a more civilised section of the southern Maravans. It may be possible that the Agamudaiyans of North Arcot are the descendants of the first immigrants from the Madura district, who, after long settlement in the north, severed all connexions with their southern brethren.” In some districts, Agamudaiyan occurs as a synonym of Vellālas, Pallis and Mēlakkārans, who consider that Agamudaiyan is a better caste name than their own.

The Agamudaiyans proper are found in the Tanjore, Madura, and Tinnevelly districts.

It is noted in the Tanjore Manual that Ahamudaiyar (the equivalent of Agamudaiyan) is “derived from the root āham, which, in Tamil, has many significations. In one of these, it means a house, in another earth, and hence it has two meanings, householder and landholder; the suffix Udeiyār indicating ownership. The word is also used in another form, ahambadiyan, derived from another meaning of the same root, i.e., inside. And, in this derivation, it signifies a particular caste, whose office it was to attend to the business in the interior of the king’s palace, or in the pagoda.” “The name,” Mr. J. H. Nelson writes,8 “is said by the Rev. G. U. Pope, in his edition of the Abbé Dubois’ work,9 to be derived from aham, a temple, and padi, a step, and to have been given to them in consequence of their serving about the steps of temples. But, independently of the fact that Madura pagodas are not approached by flights of steps, this seems to be a very far-fetched and improbable derivation of the word. I am inclined to doubt [7]whether it be not merely a vulgar corruption of the well-known word Ahamudeiyān, possessor of a house, the title which Tamil Brahmans often use in speaking of a man to his wife, in order to avoid the unpolite term husband. Or, perhaps, the name comes from aham in the sense of earth, and pati, master or possessor.”

Concerning the connection which exists between the Maravans, Kallans, and Agamudaiyans (see Kallan), the following is one version of a legend, which is narrated. The father of Ahalya decided to give her in marriage to one who remained submerged under water for a thousand years. Indra only managed to remain thus for five hundred years, but Gautama succeeded in remaining for the whole of the stipulated period, and became the husband of Ahalya. Indra determined to have intercourse with her, and, assuming the guise of a cock, went at midnight to the abode of Gautama, and crowed. Gautama, thinking that daybreak was arriving, got up, and went to a river to bathe. While he was away, Indra assumed his form, and accomplished his desire. Ahalya is said to have recognised the deception after two children, who became the ancestors of the Maravans and Kallans, were born to her. A third child was born later on, from whom the Agamudaiyans are descended. According to another version of the legend, the first-born child is said to have faced Gautama without fear, and Agamudaiyan is accordingly derived from aham or agam, pride, and udaiyan, possessor. There is a Tamil proverb to the effect that a Kallan may come to be a Maravan. By respectability he may develope into an Agamudaiyan, and, by slow degrees, become a Vellāla, from which he may rise to be a Mudaliar.

Of the three castes, Kallan, Maravan and Agamudaiyan, the last are said to have “alone been greatly [8]influenced by contact with Brāhmanism. They engage Brāhman priests, and perform their birth, marriage, and death ceremonies like the Vellālas.”10 I am told that the more prosperous Agamudaiyans in the south imitate the Vellālas in their ceremonial observances, and the poorer classes the Maravans.

Agamudaiyan has been returned, at times of census, as a sub-division of Maravan and Kallan. In some places, the Agamudaiyans style themselves sons of Sembunāttu Maravans. At Ramnād, in the Madura district, they carry the fire-pot to the burning ground at the funeral of a Maravan, and also bring the water for washing the corpse. In the Tanjore district the Agamudaiyans are called Terkittiyar, or southerners, a name which is also applied to Kallans, Maravans, and Valaiyans. The ordinary title of the Agamudaiyans is Sērvaikkāran, but many of them call themselves, like the Vellālas, Pillai. Other titles, returned at times of census, are Adhigāri and Mudaliar.

At the census, 1891, the following were returned as the more important sub-divisions of the Agamudaiyans:—Aivali Nāttān, Kōttaipattu, Malainādu, Nāttumangalam, Rājabōja, Rājakulam, Rājavāsal, Kallan, Maravan, Tuluvan (cf. Tuluva Vellāla) and Sērvaikkāran. The name Rājavāsal denotes those who are servants of Rājas, and has been transformed into Rājavamsa, meaning those of kingly parentage. Kōttaipattu means those of the fort, and the Agamudaiyans believe that the so-called Kōttai Vellalas of the Tinnevelly district are really Kōttaipattu Agamudaiyans. One sub-division of the Agamudaiyans is called Sāni (cow-dung). Unlike the Maravans and Kallans, the Agamudaiyans have no exogamous septs, or kilais.


It is recorded, in the Mackenzie Manuscripts, that “among the Maravas, the kings or the rulers of districts, or principal men, are accustomed to perform the ceremony of tying on the tāli, or in performing the marriage at once in full, with reference to females of the Agambadiyar tribe. The female children of such marriages can intermarry with the Maravas, but not among the Agambadiyar tribe. On the other hand, the male offspring of such marriages is considered to be of the mother’s tribe, and can intermarry with the Agambadiyas, but not in the tribe of the Maravas.” I am told that, under ordinary circumstances, the offspring of a marriage between a Maravan and Agamudaiyan becomes an Agamudaiyan, but that, if the husband is a man of position, the male issues are regarded as Maravans. Adult marriage appears to be the rule among the Agamudaiyans, but sometimes, as among the Maravans, Kallans and other castes, young boys are, in the southern districts, sometimes married to grown-up girls.

The marriage ceremonial, as carried out among the poorer Agamudaiyans, is very simple. The sister of the bridegroom proceeds to the home of the bride on an auspicious day, followed by a few females carrying a woman’s cloth, a few jewels, flowers, etc. The bride is seated close to a wall, facing east. She is dressed up in the cloth which has been brought, and seated on a plank. Betel leaves, areca nuts, and flowers are presented to her by the bridegroom’s sister, and she puts them in her lap. A turmeric-dyed string or garland is then placed round the bride’s neck by the bridegroom’s sister, while the conch shell (musical instrument), is blown. On the same day the bride is conducted to the home of the bridegroom, and a feast is held. [10]

The more prosperous Agamudaiyans celebrate their marriages according to the Purānic type, which is the form in vogue amongst most of the Tamil castes, with variations. The astrologer is consulted in order to ascertain whether the pair agree in some at least of the points enumerated below. For this purpose, the day of birth, zodiacal signs, planets and asterisms under which the pair were born, are taken into consideration:—

1. Vāram (day of birth).—Days are calculated, commencing with the first day after the new moon. Counting from the day on which the girl was born, if the young man’s birthday happens to be the fourth, seventh, thirteenth, sixteenth, or seventeenth, it is considered good.

2. Ganam (class or tribe).—There are three ganams, called Manusha, Dēva, and Rākshasa. Of the twenty-seven asterisms, Aswini, Bharani, etc., some are Manusha, some Dēva, and some Rākshasa ganam. Ashtham and Swāthi are considered to be of Dēva ganam, so individuals born under these asterisms are regarded as belonging to Dēva ganam. Those born under the asterisms Bharani, Rōgini, Pūram, Pūrādam, Uththarādam, etc., belong to the Manusha ganam. Under Rākshasa ganam are included Krithika, Āyilyam, Makam, Visākam, and other asterisms. The bridal pair should belong to the same ganam, as far as possible. Manusha and Dēva is a tolerable combination, whereas Rākshasa and Dēva, or Rākshasa and Manusha, are bad combinations.

3. Sthridīrgam (woman’s longevity).—The young man’s birthday should be beyond the thirteenth day, counting from the birthday of the girl.

4. Yōni (female generative organs).—The asterisms are supposed to belong to several animals. An [11]individual belongs to the animal to which the asterism under which he was born belongs. For example, a man is a horse if his asterism is Aswini, a cow if his asterism is Uththirattādhi, and so on. The animals of husband and wife must be on friendly terms, and not enemies. The elephant and man, horse and cow, dog and monkey, cat and mouse, are enemies. The animals of man and wife should not both be males. Nor should the man be a female, or the wife a male animal.

5. Rāsi (zodiacal sign).—Beginning from the girl’s zodiacal sign, the young man’s should be beyond the sixth.

6. Rāsyathipathi (planet in the zodiacal sign).—The ruling planets of the zodiacal signs of the pair should not be enemies.

7. Vasyam.—The zodiacal signs of the pair should be compatible, e.g., Midunam and Kanni, Singam and Makaram, Dhanus and Mīnam, Thulām and Makaram, etc.

8. Rajju (string).—The twenty-seven asterisms are arranged at various points on four parallel lines drawn across three triangles. These lines are called the leg, thigh, abdomen, and neck rajjus. The vertices of the triangles are the head rajjus. The asterisms of the pair should not be on the same rajju, and it is considered to be specially bad if they are both on the neck.

9. Vriksham (tree).—The asterisms belong to a number of trees, e.g.:—

  • Aswini, Strychnos Nux-vomica.
  • Bharani, Phyllanthus Emblica.
  • Krithikai, Ficus glomerata.
  • Pūram, Butea frondosa.
  • Hastham, Sesbania grandiflora.
  • Thiruvōnam, Calotropis gigantea.
  • Uththirattādhi, Melia Azadirachta.


Some of the trees are classed as milky, and others as dry. The young man’s tree should be dry, and that of the girl milky, or both milky.

10. Pakshi (birds).—Certain asterisms also belong to birds, and the birds of the pair should be on friendly terms, e.g., peacock and fowl.

11. Jādi (caste).—The zodiacal signs are grouped into castes as follows:—

  • Brāhman, Karkātakam, Mīnam, and Dhanus.
  • Kshatriya, Mēsham, Vrischikam.
  • Vaisya, Kumbam, Thulām.
  • Sūdra, Rishabam, Makaram.
  • Lower castes, Midhunam, Singam, and Kanni.

The young man should be of a higher caste, according to the zodiacal signs, than the girl.

After ascertaining the agreement of the pair, some close relations of the young man proceed to some distance northward, and wait for omens. If the omens are auspicious, they are satisfied. Some, instead of so going, go to a temple, and seek the omens either by placing flowers on the idol, and watching the direction in which they fall, or by picking up a flower from a large number strewn in front of the idol. If the flower picked up, and the one thought of, are of the same colour, it is regarded as a good omen. The betrothal ceremony is an important event. As soon as the people have assembled, the bridegroom’s party place in their midst the pariyam cloth and jewels. Some responsible person inspects them, and, on his pronouncing that they are correct, permission is given to draw up the lagna patrika (letter of invitation, containing the date of marriage, etc.). Vignēswara (the elephant god Ganēsa) is then worshipped, with the lagna patrika in front of him. This is followed by the announcement of the forthcoming [13]marriage by the purōhit (priest), and the settlement of the amount of the pariyam (bride’s money). For the marriage celebration, a pandal (booth) is erected, and a dais, constructed of clay and laterite earth, is set up inside it. From the day on which the pandal is erected until the wedding day, the contracting couple have to go through the nalagu ceremony separately or together. This consists in having their bodies smeared with turmeric paste (Phaseolus Mungo paste), and gingelly (Sesamum) oil. On the wedding day, the bridegroom, after a clean shave, proceeds to the house of the bride. The finger and toe-nails of the bride are cut. The pair offer pongal (boiled rice) to the family deity and their ancestors. A square space is cleared in the centre of the dais for the sacred fire (hōmam). A many-branched lamp, representing the thousand-eyed Indra, is placed to the east of the square. The purōhit, who is regarded as equivalent to Yama (the god of death), and a pot with a lamp on it representing Agni dēvata, occupy the south-east corner. Women representing Niruti (a dēvata) are posted in the south-west corner.

The direction of Varuna (the god of water) being west, the bridegroom occupies this position. The best man, who represents Vāyu (the god of wind) is placed in the north-west corner. As the position of Kubēra (the god of wealth) is the north, a person, with a bag full of money, is seated on that side. A grinding-stone and roller, representing Siva and Sakthi, are placed in the north-east corner, and, at their side, pans containing nine kinds of seedlings, are set. Seven pots are arranged in a row between the grinding-stone and the branched lamp. Some married women bring water from seven streams or seven different places, and pour it into a pot in front of the lamp. The milk-post (pāl kambam) is set [14]up between the lamp and the row of pots. This post is usually made of twigs of Ficus religiosa, Ficus bengalensis, and Erythrina indica, tied together and representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Sometimes, however, twigs of Odina Wodier, and green bamboo sticks, are substituted. At the close of the marriage ceremonies, the Erythrina or Odina twig is planted, and it is regarded as a good sign if it takes root and grows. The sacred fire is kindled, and the bridegroom goes through the upanayana (thread investiture) and other ceremonies. He then goes away from the house in procession (paradēsa pravēsam), and is met by the bride’s father, who brings him back to the pandal. The bride’s father and mother then wash his feet, and rings are put on his toes (kālkattu, or tying the leg). The purōhit gives the bridegroom a thread (kankanam), and, after washing the feet of the bride’s father and mother, ties it on his wrist. A thread is also tied on the left wrist of the bride. The pair being seated in front of the sacred fire, a ceremony called Nāndisrādham (memorial service to ancestors) is performed, and new clothes are given to the pair. The next item is the tying of the tāli (marriage badge). The tāli is usually tied on a turmeric-dyed thread, placed on a cocoanut, and taken round to be blessed by all present. Then the purōhit gives the tāli to the bridegroom, and he ties it on the bride’s neck amidst silence, except for the music played by the barber or Mēlakkāran musicians. While the tāli is being tied, the bridegroom’s sister stands behind the bride, holding a lamp in her hand. The bridegroom ties one knot, and his sister ties two knots. After the tāli-tying, small plates of gold or silver, called pattam, are tied on the foreheads of the pair, and presents of money and cloths are made to them by their relations and friends. They then go seven times round the [15]pandal, and, at the end of the seventh round, they stand close to the grinding-stone, on which the bridegroom places the bride’s left foot. They take their seats on the dais, and the bridegroom, taking some parched rice (pori) from the bride’s brother, puts it in the sacred fire. Garlands of flowers are given to the bride and bridegroom, who put them on, and exchange them three or five times. They then roll flowers made into a ball. This is followed by the waving of ārathi (coloured water), and circumambulation of the pandal by the pair, along with the ashtamangalam or eight auspicious things, viz., the bridesmaid, best man, lamp, vessel filled with water, mirror, ankusam (elephant goad), white chamara (yak’s tail fly-flapper), flag and drum. Generally the pair go three times round the pandal, and, during the first turn, a cocoanut is broken near the grinding-stone, and the bride is told that it is Siva, and the roller Sakthi, the two combined being emblematical of Ardanārisvara, a bisexual representation of Siva and Parvathi. During the second round, the story of Arundati is repeated to the bride. Arundati was the wife of the Rishi Vasishta, and is looked up to as a model of conjugal fidelity. The morning star is supposed to be Arundati, and the purōhit generally points it out to the bridal pair at the close of the ceremonial, which terminates with three hōmams. The wedding may be concluded in a single day, or last for two or three days.

The dead are either buried or cremated. The corpse is carried to the burning or burial-ground on a bier or palanquin. As the Agamudaiyans are Saivites, Pandārams assist at the funeral ceremonies. On the second or third day after death, the son and others go to the spot where the corpse was buried or burnt, and offer food, etc., to the deceased. A pot of water is left at the [16]spot. Those who are particular about performing the death ceremonies on an elaborate scale offer cooked food to the soul of dead person until the fifteenth day, and carry out the final death ceremonies (karmāndhiram) on the sixteenth day. Presents are then given to Brāhmans, and, after the death pollution has been removed by sprinkling with holy water (punyāham), a feast is given to the relatives.

The Agamudaiyans worship various minor deities, such as Aiyanar, Pidāri, and Karupannaswāmi.

Agaru.—Agaru, or Avaru, is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small caste of Telugu cultivators in Vizagapatam and Ganjam, who are also sellers of vegetables and betel leaves. Agaru is said to mean betel in their language, which they call Bhāsha, and contains a good deal of Oriya. An extensive colony of Agarus is settled at Nellimerla near Vizianagram. Both males and females engage in the cultivation of the betel vine, and different kinds of greens, which find a ready sale in the Vizianagram market. Marriage is usually after puberty, and an Oriya Brāhman officiates. The dead are burnt.

Agarwāl.—A few members of this Upper India trading caste, who deal in grain and jewellery, and are also bankers and usurers, have been returned at times of census.

Agasa.—In the South Canara district, there are three distinct classes of washermen, viz., (1) Konkani Christians; (2) Canarese-speaking washermen, who seem to be allied to the Agasas of Mysore; (3) Tulu-speaking washermen. The Tulu-speaking Agasas follow the aliya santāna law of inheritance (in the female line). Madivāla (madi, a clean cloth) is a synonym for [17]Agasa. The word Agasa is derived from agasi, a turban.

The Agasas of Mysore have been described as follows.11 “The Agasa is a member of the village hierarchy, his office being hereditary, and his remuneration being grain fees from the ryots. Besides washing, he occasionally ekes out his substance by carrying on his donkeys grain from place to place. He is also employed in bearing the torch in marriage and other public ceremonies. The principal object of worship is the pot of boiling water (ubbe), in which dirty clothes are steeped. Animals are sacrificed to the god with the view of preventing the clothes being burnt in the ubbe pot. Under the name of Bhūma Dēva, there are temples dedicated to this god in some large towns, the service being conducted by pūjāris (priests) of the Agasa caste. The Agasas are Vishnuvaits, and pray to Vishnu, Pattalamma, and the Saktis. Their gurus (religious preceptors) are Sātānis. A unique custom is attached to the washerman’s office. When a girl-wife attains puberty, it is the duty and privilege of the washerman to carry the news, accompanied by certain presents, to her husband’s parents, for which the messenger is duly rewarded.”

The Tulu Madivālas of the South Canara district, like other Tulu castes, have exogamous septs or balis. They will wash clothes for all castes above the Billavas. They also supply cloths for decorating the marriage booth and funeral cars, and carry torches. They worship bhūthas (devils), of whom the principal one seems to be Jumadi. At the time of kōlas (bhūtha festivals), the Madivālas have the right to cut off the heads of the [18]fowls or goats, which are sacrificed. The animals are held by Pombadas or Paravas, and the Madivāla decapitates them. On the seventh day after the birth of a child, the washerwoman ties a thread round its waist. For purificatory ceremonies, the Madivāli should give washed clothes to those under pollution.

In their ceremonial observances, the Madivālas closely follow the Bants. In some places, they have a headman called, as among the Bants, Gurikara or Guttinaya. At marriages, the pouring of the dhāre water over the united hands of the bride and bridegroom is the duty of the father or maternal uncle of the bride, not of the headman.

Some Marātha washermen call themselves Dandu (army) Agasa.

The insigne of the washermen at Conjeeveram is a pot, such as that in which clothes are boiled.

Agastya (the name of a sage).—An exogamous sept of Kondaiyamkottai Maravans.

Agni (fire).—An exogamous sept of the Kurubas and Gollas, and sub-division of the Pallis or Vanniyans. The equivalent Aggi occurs as an exogamous sept of Bōya. The Pallis claim to be Agnikula Kshatriyas, i.e., to belong to the fire race of Kshatriyas.

Agrahārekala.—A sub-division of Bhatrāzu, meaning those who belong to the agrahāram, or Brāhman quarter of a village.

Ahir.—A few members of this Upper India caste of cowherds have been returned at times of census.

Ahmedi.—Returned, at times of census, as a general name for Muhammadans.

Aivattukuladavaru (people of fifty families).—A synonym for Bākuda. [19]

Aiya.—Aiya or Ayya, meaning father, is the title of many classes, which include Dāsari, Dēvānga, Golla, Īdiga, Jangam, Konda Dora, Kōmati, Koppala Velama, Linga Balija, Mangala, Mūka Dora, Paidi, Sātāni, Servēgāra, and Tambala. It is further a title of the Patnūlkarans, who claim to be Brāhmans, and a sub-division of the Tamil Pallans.

Aiyar occurs very widely as a title among Tamil Brāhmans, and is replaced in the Telugu and Canarese countries by Bhatlu, Pantulu, and Sāstrulu. It is noted by the Rev. A. Margöschis that “the honorific title Aiyar was formerly used exclusively by Brāhmans, but has now come to be used by every native clergyman. The name which precedes the title will enable us to discover whether the man is Christian or Hindu. Thus Yesudian Aiyar means the Aiyar who is the servant of Jesus.” The Rev. G. U. Pope, the well-known Tamil scholar, was known as Pope Aiyar.

Aiyanar.—A sub-division of Kallan, named after Aiyanar, the only male deity among the Grāma Dēvata or village deities.

Aiyarakulu.—In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Aiyarakam is summed up as being a caste of Telugu cultivators, who, in their social and religious observances, closely follow the Kāpus and Balijas, may intermarry with Telagas, and will accept drinking water from the hands of Gollas. According to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, to whom I am indebted for the following note, the Aiyarakulu are a section of Kāpus, who rose in the social scale by Royal favour. The name is derived from aiya and rikam, denoting the act of being an aiya or distinguished person. The Aiyarakulu state that their forefathers were soldiers in the Vizianagram army, and rendered great services to the Rājas. They have a story [20]to the effect that, on one occasion, they proceeded on an expedition against a Golconda force, and gave so much trouble to the Muhammadan commander thereof that, after putting them to the sword, he proceeded to their own country, to destroy their homes. On hearing of this, the women, dressing themselves in male attire, advanced with bayonets and battle-axes against the Muhammadans, and drove them off in great disorder. The Rāja, in return for their gallant conduct, adorned their legs with silver bangles, such as the women still wear at the present day.

The Aiyarakulu are divided into gōtras, such as nāga (cobra), tābēlu (tortoise), etc., which are strictly totemistic, and are further divided into exogamous septs or intipērulu. The custom of mēnarikam, according to which a man should marry his maternal uncle’s daughter, is in force. Girls are married before puberty, and a Brāhman officiates at the wedding rites, during which the bride and bridegroom wear silver sacred threads, which are subsequently converted into rings. Some Aiyarakulu call themselves Rāzus, and wear the sacred thread, but interdine and intermarry with other members of the community. The remarriage of widows, and divorce are forbidden.

The principal occupation of the Aiyarakulus is cultivating, but, in some parts, many of them are cart-drivers plying between the plains of Vizagapatam and the Agency tracts. The usual title of members of the caste is Pātrudu.

Ākāsam (sky).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga.

Akattu Charna.—A sub-division of Nāyar.

Akattulavar.—A name, indicating those inside (in seclusion or gōsha), by which Nambūtiri and Elayad and other females are called. [21]

Akshantala (rice grain).—A gōtra of Oddē. Akshathayya is the name of a gōtra of Gollas, who avoid rice coloured with turmeric and other materials.

Ākula (betel leaf: Piper Betle).—An exogamous sept of Kamma and Bonthuk Savara, and a sub-division of Kāpu. The presentation of betel leaves and areca nuts, called pān-supāri, as a complimentary offering is a wide-spread Indian custom.

Āla.—A sub-division of Golla.

Alagi (pot).—An exogamous sept of Vakkaliga.

Alavan.—The Alavans are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “workers in salt-pans, who are found only in Madura and Tinnevelly. Their titles are Pannaiyan and Mūppan. They are not allowed to enter Hindu temples.” In the Travancore Census Report, 1901, it is recorded that “the Alavans or Uppalavans (salt Alavans) are so called because they work in alams or salt-pans. Three or four centuries ago, seven families of them are said to have been brought over from the Pāndyan territory to Travancore, to work in the salt-pans. It is said that there are at Tāmarakkulam, Puttalam, and other places in South Travancore, inscriptions recording their immigration, but these have not been deciphered. They speak Tamil. They are flesh-eaters. Drinking is rare among them. Burial was the rule in ancient days, but now the dead are sometimes burned. Tattooing is a general custom. The tutelary deities are Sāsta and Bhadrakāli. As a class the Alavans are very industrious. There are no better salt labourers in all Southern India.”

Albino.—The picture drawn by the Abbé Dubois12 of albino Natives is not a pleasant one. “This extreme [22]fairness,” he says, “is unnatural, and makes them very repulsive to look at. In fact, these unfortunate beings are objects of horror to every one, and even their parents desert them. They are looked upon as lepers. They are called Kakrelaks as a term of reproach. Kakrelaks are horrible insects, disgustingly dirty, which give forth a loathsome odour, and shun the day and its light. The question has been raised as to whether these degenerate individuals can produce children like themselves, and afflicted with nyctalopia. Such a child has never come under my observation; but I once baptised the child of a female Kakrelak, who owed its birth to a rash European soldier. These unfortunate wretches are denied decent burial after death, and are cast into ditches.”

This reference to albinos by the observant Abbé may be amplified by the notes taken on several albino Natives in Madras and Mysore, which show, inter alia, that the lot of the present day albino is not an unhappy one.

Chinna Abboye, æt. 35. Shepherd caste. Rope (insigne of office) round waist for driving cattle, and tying the legs of cows when milking them. Yellowish-white hair where long, as in the kudumi. Bristles on top of shaved head pure white. Greenish-brown iris. Father dark; mother, like himself, has white hair and pink skin. One brother an albino, married. One child of the usual Native type. Cannot see well in glare of sunlight, but sees better towards sunset. Screws his eyelids into transverse slits. Mother kind to him.

Vembu Achāri, æt. 20. Artist. Kudumi (top-knot) yellowish-white. White eyebrows and moustache. Bright pink lips, and pink complexion. Iris light blue with pink radiating striæ and pink peripheral zone. Sees best in the evening when the sun is low on the horizon. Screws up his eyelids to act as a diaphragm. Mother, [23]father, brothers and sisters, all of the ordinary Native type. No relations albino, as far as he knows. Engaged to be married. People like himself are called chevapu (red-coloured), or, in derision, vellakaran (European or white man). Children sometimes make game of him, but people generally are kind to him.

Moonoosawmy, æt. 45. Belongs to the weaver class, and is a well-to-do man. Albino. Had an albino sister, and a brother of the ordinary type. Is the father of ten children, of whom five are albinos. They are on terms of equality with the other members of their community, and one daughter is likely to be married to the son of a prosperous man.

——, æt. 22. Fisherman caste. Albino. His maternal uncle had an albino daughter. Has four brothers, of whom two are albinos. Cannot stand the glare of the sun, and is consequently unable to do outdoor work. Moves freely among the members of his community, and could easily secure a wife, if he was in a position to support one.

——, æt. 36. Rājput. Hardware merchant. His father, of ordinary Native type, had twelve children, five of whom were albino, by an albino wife, whose brother was also albino. Married to a woman of Native type, and had one non-albino child. His sister, of ordinary Native type, has two albino children. Iris light blue. Hair yellowish. Complexion pink. Keeps left eye closed, and looks through a slit between eyelids of right eye. People call him in Canarese kempuava (red man). They are kind to him.

Alia.—The Alias are an Oriya cultivating caste, found mainly in the Gumsūr tāluk of Ganjam. In the Madras Census Report, 1891, it is suggested that the name is derived from the Sanskrit holo, meaning a plough. The [24]further suggestions have been made that it is derived from alo, meaning crop, or from Ali, a killa or tāluk of Orissa, whence the Aliyas have migrated. In social position the Alias rank below the Bhondāris and Odiyas, who will not accept water touched by them.

Various titles occur within the caste, e.g., Biswalo, Bonjo, Bāriko, Jenna, Kampo, Kondwalo, Lenka, Mahanti, Molla Nāhako, Pātro, Podhāno, Podiyāli, Ravuto, Siyo, and Swāyi. Like other Oriya castes, the Alias have gōtras, and the marriage rules based on titles and gōtras are peculiar. A Podhāno man may, for example, marry a Podhāno girl, if their gōtras are different. Further, two people, whose gōtras are the same, may marry if they have a different title. Thus, a man, whose gōtra is Goru and title Podhāno, may marry a girl of a family of which the gōtra is Goru, but title other than Podhāno.

Infant marriage is the rule, and, if a girl does not secure a husband before she reaches maturity, she goes through a mock marriage ceremony, in which the bridegroom is represented by a brass vessel or an arrow. Like many other Oriya castes, the Aliyas follow the Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism, and also worship various Tākurānis (village deities).

Alige (drum).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Aliya Santānam.—Inheritance in the female line. The equivalent, in the Canara country, of the Malayāli marumakkathāyam.

Allam (ginger).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Allikulam (lily clan).—Returned, at times of census, as a sub-division of Anappan.

Ālvar.—An exogamous sept of Toreya. Ālvar is a synonym of Garuda, the winged vehicle of Vishnu. Ālvar Dāsari occurs as a sub-division of Valluvans, which claims descent from Tiruppān Ālvar, one of the Vaishnava saints. [25]

Amarāvatiyavaru.—A name, denoting people of Amarāvati on the Kistna river, recorded13 as a sub-division of Desabhaga Mādigas. Amarāvati also occurs as a sub-division, or nādu, of Vallamban.

Ambalakkāran.—In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes that “Ambalakkāran (ambalam, an open place14) is the usual designation of a head of a village in the Maravan and Kallan districts, and it is, or was the common agnomen of Kallans. I am not able to state what is the precise connection between the Ambalakkāran and Kallan castes, but, from some accounts which I have obtained, the Ambalakkārans seem to be very closely connected, if not identical with Muttiriyans (Telugu Mutrācha), who have been classed as village watchmen; and this is borne out by the sub-divisions returned, for, though no less than 109,263 individuals have given Ambalakkāran as the sub-division also, yet, of the sub-divisions returned, Muttiriyan and Mutrācha are the strongest. Marriage is usually deferred until after puberty, and widow re-marriage is permitted, but there does not seem to be the same freedom of divorce at will as is found among Kallans, Maravans, etc. The dead are either burnt or buried. The consumption of flesh and liquor is allowed. Their usual agnomen is said to be Sērvaikkāran, but the titles Muttiriyan, Ambalakkāran, Malavarāyān, Mutarāsan, and Vannian are also used. The usual agnomen of Muttiriyans, on the other hand, is said to be Nāyakkan (Naik).”

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the Ambalakkārans are summed up as follows. “A Tamil caste of [26]cultivators and village watchmen. Till recently the term Ambalakkāran was considered to be a title of the Kallans, but further enquiries have shown that it is the name of a distinct caste, found chiefly in the Trichinopoly district. The Ambalakkārans and Muttiriyans of a village in Musiri tāluk wrote a joint petition, protesting against their being classified as Kallans, but nevertheless it is said that the Kallans of Madura will not eat in Ambalakkāran’s houses. There is some connection between Ambalakkārans, Muttiriyans, Mutrāchas, Urālis, Vēdans, Valaiyans, and Vēttuvans. It seems likely that all of them are descended from one common parent stock. Ambalakkārans claim to be descended from Kannappa Nāyanar, one of the sixty-three Saivite saints, who was a Vēdan or hunter by caste. In Tanjore the Valaiyans declare themselves to have a similar origin, and in that district Ambalakkāran and Muttiriyan seem to be synonymous with Valaiyan. [Some Valaiyans have Ambalakkāran as a title.] Moreover, the statistics of the distribution of the Valaiyans show that they are numerous in the districts where Ambalakkārans are few, and vice versâ, which looks as though certain sections of them had taken to calling themselves Ambalakkārans. The upper section of the Ambalakkārans style themselves Pillai, which is a title properly belonging to Vellālas, but the others are usually called Mūppan in Tanjore, and Ambalakkāran, Muttiriyan, and Sērvaigāran in Trichinopoly. The headman of the caste panchāyat (council) is called the Kāriyakkāran, and his office is hereditary in particular families. Each headman has a peon called the Kudi-pillai, whose duty it is to summon the panchāyat when necessary, and to carry messages. For this he gets an annual fee of four annas from each family of the caste in his village. The caste has certain [27]endogamous sections. Four of them are said to be Muttiriyan or Mutrācha, Kāvalgar, Vanniyan, and Valaiyan. A member of any one of these is usually prohibited by the panchāyats from marrying outside it on pain of excommunication. Their customs are a mixture of those peculiar to the higher castes and those followed by the lower ones. Some of them employ Brāhmans as purōhits (priests), and wear the sacred thread at funerals and srāddhas (memorial services for the dead). Yet they eat mutton, pork, and fowls, drink alcohol, and allow the marriage of widows and divorced women.” Muttiriyan and Kāvalgar both mean watchman. Vanniyan is certainly a separate caste, some members of which take Ambalakkāran as a title. The Ambalakkārans are apparently Valaiyans, who have separated themselves from the main stock on account of their prosperity.

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. F. R. Hemingway. The Ambalakkārans or Muttiriyans are more numerous in the Trichinopoly district and Pudukkōttai than in any other part of the Presidency. Though they have been treated as separate castes, they appear to be one and the same in this district, generally calling themselves Muttiriyan in the Trichinopoly tāluk, and Ambalakkāran elsewhere, and having no objection to either name. They admit they are called Valaiyans, but repudiate any connection with the caste of that name, and explain the appellation by a story that, when Siva’s ring was swallowed by a fish in the Ganges, one of their ancestors invented the first net (valai) made in the world. As relics of their former greatness they point to the thousand-pillared mantapam at Srirangam, which is called muttarasan koradu, and a big matam at Palni, both of which, they say, were built by their kings. To the latter every household of the caste subscribes four annas [28]annually. They say that they were born of the sweat (muttu, a pearl or bead of perspiration) of Parama-siva. The caste is divided into a number of nādus, the names and number of which are variously given. Some of these are Ettarai, Kōppu, Adavattūr, Tīrāmpālaiyam, Vīmānayakkanpālaiyam in the Trichinopoly tāluk, and Amūr, Savindippatti, and Karungāli in Musiri tāluk. Widow remarriage is allowed in some of these nādus, and not in others. They use the titles Muttiriyan, Ambalakkāran, Sērvaikāran, and Kāvalkāran. They admit their social inferiority to the Vellālans, Kallans, Nattamāns, and Reddis, from all of whom they will accept meals, but consider themselves superior to Pallis, Urālis, Uppiliyans, and Valaiyans. Their usual occupation is cultivation, but they have also taken to petty trade, and some earn a living as masons and kāvalgars (watchmen). They wear the sacred thread during their marriages and funerals. They have panchāyats for each village and for the nādu, and have also a number of the Patnattu Chettis, who are recognized as elders of the caste, and sit with the head of the nādu to decide cases of adultery, etc.

Ambalavāsi.—This is summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a generic name applied to all classes of temple servants in Malabar. There are many sub-divisions of the caste, such as Poduvāl, Chākkiyar, Nambiyassan, Pidāran, Pishārodi, Vāriyan, Nambi, Teyyambādi, etc., which are assigned different services in the Hindu temples, such as the preparation of garlands, the sweeping of the floor, the fetching of fire-wood, the carrying of the idols in procession, singing, dancing, and so on. Like most of the temple servant classes, they are inferior to the lower Brāhmans, such as the Mūssads, and food will not be taken from the hands of most of them even by Nāyars.” [29]

In the Travancore Census Report, 1901, it is noted that “the term Ambalavāsi (one who lives in a temple) is a group-name, and is applied to castes, whose occupation is temple service. The Kēralamāhātmya speaks of them as Kshētravāsinah, which means those who live in temples. They are also known as Antarālas, from their occupying an intermediate position between the Brāhmans and the Brāhmanical Kshatriyas of Malabar on the one hand, and the Sūdras on the other. While according to one view they are fallen Brāhmans, others, such as the writer of the Kēralolpatti, would put them down as an advance from the Sūdras. The castes recognised as included in the generic name of Ambalavāsi are:—

  • Nambiyassan.
  • Pushpakan.
  • Pūppalli.
  • Chākkiyar.
  • Brahmani or Daivampati.
  • Adikal.
  • Nambidi.
  • Pilāppalli.
  • Nambiyar.
  • Pishārati.
  • Vāriyar.
  • Nattupattan.
  • Tīyāttunni.
  • Kurukkal.
  • Poduvāl.

“All these castes are not connected with pagodas, nor do the Muttātus, who are mainly engaged in temple service, come under this group, strictly speaking. The rationale of their occupation seems to be that, in accepting duty in temples and consecrating their lives to the service of God, they hope to be absolved from the sins inherited from their fathers. In the case of ascent from lower castes, the object presumably is the acquisition of additional religious merit.... The delinquent Brāhman cannot be retained in the Brāhmanic function without lowering the standard of his caste. He had, therefore, to be allotted other functions. Temple service of various kinds, such as garland-making for the Pushpakan, Vāriyar and others, and popular recitation of God’s [30]works for the Chākkiyar, were found to hold an intermediate place between the internal functions of the Brāhmans and the external functions of the other castes, in the same sense in which the temples themselves are the exoteric counterparts of an esoteric faith, and represent a position between the inner and the outer economy of nature. Hence arose probably an intermediate status with intermediate functions for the Antarālas, the intermediates of Hindu Society. The Kshatriyas, having commensal privileges with the Brāhmans, come next to them in the order of social precedence. In the matter of pollution periods, which seem to be in inverse ratio to the position of the caste, the Brāhmans observe 10 days, the Kshatriyas 11 days, and the Sūdras of Malabar (Nāyars) 16 days. The Ambalavāsis generally observe pollution for 12 days. In some cases, however, it is as short as 10, and in others as long as 13 and even 14, but never 16 days.”

It is further recorded, in the Cochin Census Report, 1901, that “Ambalavāsis (literally temple residents) are persons who have the privilege of doing service in temples. Most of the castes have grown out of sexual relations between members of the higher and lower classes, and are therefore Anulomajas and Pratilomajas.15 They may be broadly divided into two classes, (1) those that wear the sacred thread, and (2) those that do not wear the same. Adikal, Chākkiyar, Nambiyar or Pushpakan, and Tiyyāttu Nambiyar belong to the threaded class, while Chākkiyar, Nambiyar, Pishāroti, Vāriyar, Puthuvāl, and Mārar are non-threaded. Though all Ambalavāsis have to do service in temples, they have [31]many of them sufficiently distinct functions to perform. They are all governed by the marumakkathāyam law of inheritance (through the female line); some castes among them, however, follow the makkathāyam system (from father to son). A Nambiyar, Pishāroti, or Vāriyar marries under special circumstances a woman of his own caste, and brings home his wife into the family, and their issue thus become members of the father’s family, with the right of inheriting the family property, and form themselves into a fresh marumakkathāyam stock. In the matter of tāli-kettu (tāli-tying) marriage, and marriage by union in sambandham (alliance), they follow customs similar to those of Nāyars. So far as the employment of Brāhman as priests, and the period of birth and death pollution are concerned, there are slight differences. The threaded classes have Gāyatri (hymn). The purificatory ceremony after birth or death pollution is performed by Nambūdris, but at all funeral ceremonies, such as pinda, srādha, etc., their own caste men officiate as priests. The Nambūdris can take meals cooked by a Brāhman in the house of any of the Ambalavāsis except Mārars. In fact, if the Nambūdris have the right of purification, they do not then impose any restrictions in regard to this. All Ambalavāsis are strict vegetarians at public feasts. The Ambalavāsis sit together at short distances from one another, and take their meals. Their females unite themselves in sambandham with their own caste males, or with Brāhmans or Kshatriyas. Brāhmans, Kshatriyas, or Nambidis cannot take water from them. Though a great majority of the Ambalavāsis still follow their traditional occupations, many of them have entered the public service, and taken to more lucrative pursuits.”

The more important sections of the Ambalavāsis are dealt with in special articles. [32]

Ambattan.—For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Ambattans are the Tamil barbers, or barber-surgeons. The word is usually derived from the Sanskrit amba (near) and s’tha (to stand), i.e., he who stands near to shave his clients, or treat his patients. In like manner, the Kāvutiyan caste of Malayālam barbers is called Aduttōn, signifying bystander. The Ambattan corresponds to the Mangala of the Telugu country, the Vilakkatālavan of Malabar, the Kshauraka of the Canarese Brāhmans, and the Hajām of Muhammadans. Not improbably the name refers to the original occupation of medicine-man, to which were added later the professions of village barber and musician. This view seems to receive some support from the current tradition that the Ambattans are the descendants of the offspring of a Vaisya woman by a Brāhman, to whom the medical profession was allotted as a means of livelihood. In this connection, it may be noted that the Ambattan women are the recognised midwives of the Hindu community in the Tamil country. It is impossible to say how far the above tradition is based on the verse of Manu, the ancient law-giver, who says that “from a Brāhmana with the daughter of a Vaisya is born a son called an Ambashtha.” In a succeeding verse, he states that as children of a Brāhmana by a woman of one of the three lower castes, the Ambashthas are one of the six base-born castes or apasada. He says further that Brāhmans may eat of a barber’s food—a permission which, it is hardly necessary to say, they do not avail themselves of. A single exception is, however, noteworthy. At the temple of Jugganath, within the temple precincts, neither the barber, nor the food which he prepares, and is partaken of by the higher classes, including Brāhmans, conveys pollution. The pūjāri, or officiating priest, [33]at this famous temple is a barber, and Brāhmans, except those of the extreme orthodox section, partake of his preparations of rice, after they have been offered to the presiding deity. This is, apparently, the only case in which the rule laid down by Manu is followed in practice. It is not known how far the text of Manu is answerable for the popular Sanskrit saying, which calls the barber a “good Sūdra.” There is an opinion entertained in certain quarters that originally the barber’s touch did not pollute, but that his shaving did. It is an interesting fact that, though the Ambattans are one of Manu’s base-born castes, whose touch causes pollution which requires the pouring of water over the head to remove it, they are one of the most Brahmanised of the lower castes. Nothing, perhaps, shows this so well as their marriage ceremonies, throughout which a Brāhman officiates. On the first two days, hōmam or sacred fire, fed with ghī (clarified butter) is kindled. On the third day, the tāli (marriage badge) is placed in a circular silver or brass thattu (dish), and touched with the forefinger of the right hand first by the presiding Brāhman, followed by other Brāhmans, men of superior castes, and the caste-men headed by the Perithanakkāran or head-man. It is then, amid weird music, tied to the bride’s neck before the sacred fire. During this ceremony no widows may be present. The relations of the bride and bridegroom scatter rice on the floor in front of the bridal pair, after the Brāhman priest and head-man. This rice, which is called sēsham (remainder), is strictly the perquisite of the local washerman. But it is generally purchased by the headman of the family, in which the marriage is taking place, and handed over, not to the washerman, but to the Perithanakkāran. The Brāhman receives as his fee money and a pair of silk-bordered cloths; and, till the [34]latter are given to him, he usually refuses to pronounce the necessary mantras (prayers). He also receives the first pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca nuts), plantains, and cocoanuts. Each day he has to get rid of the pollution caused by entering a barber’s house by bathing. During the fourth and fifth days, hōmam is burnt, and shadangu, or merry-making between the bride and bridegroom before the assembled spectators, takes place, during which the bride sings songs, in which she has been coached from infancy. On the fifth day the removal of the kankanam, or threads which have been tied round the wrists of the bride and bridegroom, is performed, after the priest’s account has been settled.

Among the Konga Vellālas of the Salem district, it is the Ambattan who officiates at the marriage rites, and ties the tāli, after formally proclaiming to those present that he is about to do so. Brāhmans are invited to the wedding, and are treated with due respect, and presented with money, rice, and betel. It would appear that, in this case, the Brāhman has been ousted, in recent times, from his priestly functions by the Ambattan. The barber, when he ties the tāli, mutters something about Brāhman and Vēdas in a respectful manner. The story goes that, during the days of the Chēra, Chōla, and Pāndya Kings, a Brāhman and an Ambattan were both invited to a marriage feast. But the Brāhman, on his arrival, died, and the folk, believing his death to be an evil omen, ruled that, as the Brāhman was missing, they would have an Ambattan; and it has ever since been the custom for the Ambattan to officiate at weddings.

A girl, when she reaches puberty, has to observe pollution for eleven days, during which she bathes daily, and is presented with a new cloth, and adorned by a girl who is said to have “touched” her. This girl has to [35]bathe before she can take her meals, or touch others. Every morning, a dose of pure gingelly (Sesamum indicum) oil, mixed with white of egg, is administered. The dietary must be strictly vegetarian. On the twelfth day, the girl who has been through the ceremonial has a final bath, and enters the house after it has been purified (punyāvāchanam).

The rule, once a widow always a widow, is as true of Ambattans as of high-class Brāhmans. And, if asked whether the remarriage of widows is permitted, they promptly reply that they are not washermen.

The dead are cremated, with the exception of young children, who are buried. The death ceremonies are conducted by a Brāhman priest, who is remunerated for his services with money and a cloth. Gifts of money and cloths are also made to other Brāhmans, when the days of pollution are over. Annual memorial ceremonies (srādh) are performed, as by Brāhmans. It is a privilege (they consider it as such) of the Ambattans to cremate the bodies of village paupers other than Brāhmans. And, on ordinary occasions of death, they lead the son or person who is entitled to light the funeral pyre, with a brass pot in their hands, round the corpse, and indicate with a burning cinder the place to which the light must be applied.

As a community the Ambattans are divided into Saivites and Vaishnavites. Members of the latter section, who have been branded by their Brāhman guru with the chank and chakram, abstain from animal food, and intoxicating drinks. Intermarriage between the two sections is allowed, and commonly practised. They belong to the right-hand faction, and will not eat with Kōmatis, who belong to the left. They have, however, no objection to shaving Kōmatis. The Ambattans of [36]the Chingleput district are divided into four sections, each of which is controlled by a Perithanakkāran. One of these resides in Madras, and the other three live respectively at Poonamallee, Chingleput, and Karunguzhi in the Madurantakam tāluk of the Chingleput district. Ambattans are now-a-days found over the whole Tamil area of the Madras Presidency. Originally, free movement into the various parts of the Presidency was far from easy, and every Ambattan, wherever he might migrate to, retained his subjection to the chief or headman of his native village. Thus, perhaps, what was at first a tribal division gradually developed into a territorial one. Each Perithanakkāran has under him six hundred, or even a thousand Kudithalakkārans, or heads of families. His office being hereditary, he is, if only a minor, treated with respect and dignity. All the preliminaries of marriage are arranged by him. On important occasions, such as settling disputes, he is assisted by a panchāyat, or council of elders. In this way are settled quarrels, questions arising out of adultery, or non-payment of fines, which it is his duty to collect. He is further responsible for the marriage rice-money, which is added to a communal tax of 2½ annas per family, which is imposed annually for charitable purposes. The charities take the form of the maintenance of chattrams, or places where pilgrims are fed free of charge at holy places. Two such institutions are maintained in the Chingleput district, the centre of the Ambattan community, one at Tirupporūr, the other at Tirukalikundram. At these places Brāhmans are given free meals, and to other caste Hindus sadābāth, or things necessary for meals, are presented. Sometimes the money is spent in building adjuncts to holy shrines. At Srīrangam, for example, the Ambattans, in days gone by, built a fine [37]stone mantapam for the local temple. If the Perithanakkāran cannot satisfactorily dispose of a case with the assistance of the usual panchāyat (council), it is referred to the higher authority of the Kavarai or Desāi Setti, or even to British Courts as a last resource.

The barber has been summed up by a district official16 as “one of the most useful of the village servants. He leads an industrious life, his services being in demand on all occasions of marriages, feasts, and funerals. He often combines in himself the three useful vocations of hair-dresser, surgeon, and musician. In the early hours of the morning, he may be seen going his rounds to his employers’ houses in his capacity of shaver and hair-cutter. Later on, he will be leading the village band of musicians before a wedding procession, or playing at a temple ceremony. Yet again he may be observed paying his professional visits as Vythian or physician, with his knapsack of surgical instruments and cutaneous drugs tucked under his arm. By long practice the barber becomes a fairly skilful operator with the knife, which he uses in a rough and ready manner. He lances ulcers and carbuncles, and even essays his hand in affections of the eye, often with the most disastrous results. It is the barber who takes away cricks and sprains, procures leeches for those wishing to be bled, and otherwise relieves the physical ills of his patients. The barber woman, on the other hand, is the accoucheuse and midwife of the village matrons. It may be said without exaggeration that many of the uterine ailments which furnish patients to the maternity wards of the various hospitals in this country are attributable to the rude treatment of the village midwife.” [38]

The Ambattan will cut the nails, and shave not only the head and face, but other parts of the body, whereas the Telugu barber will shave only down to the waist. The depilatory operations on women are performed by female hair-dressers. Barbers’ sons are taught to shave by taking the bottom of an old well-burnt clay cooking-pot, and, with a blunt knife, scraping off the collected carbon. They then commence to operate on pubescent youths. The barber who shaves Europeans must not be a caste barber, but is either a Muhammadan or a non-caste man. Quite recently, a youthful Ambattan had to undergo ceremonial purification for having unconsciously shaved a Paraiyan. Paraiyans, Mālas, and other classes of the lower orders, have their own barbers and washermen. Razors are, however, sometime lent to them by the Ambattans for a small consideration, and cleansed in water when they are returned. Parasitic skin diseases are said to originate from the application of a razor, which has been used on a number of miscellaneous individuals. And well-to-do Hindus now keep their own razor, which the barber uses when he comes to shave them. In the southern districts, it is not usual for the Ambattans to go to the houses of their customers, but they have sheds at the backs of their own houses, where they attend to them from daybreak till about mid-day. Occasionally, when sent for, they will wait on Brāhmans and high-class non-Brāhmans at their houses. Numbers of them, besides, wait for customers near the riverside. Like the English hair-cutter, the Ambattan is a chatter-box, retails the petty gossip of the station, and is always posted in the latest local news and scandal. The barbers attached to British regiments are migratory, and, it is said, have friends and connections in all military cantonments, with whom they exchange news, and hold social [39]intercourse. The Ambattan fills the rôle of negotiator and go-between in the arrangement of marriages, feasts, and funeral. He is, moreover, the village physician and surgeon, and, in the days when blood-letting was still in vogue, the operation of phlebotomy was part of his business. In modern times, his nose has, like that of the village potter, been put out of joint by civil hospitals and dispensaries. His medicines consist of pills made from indigenous drugs, the nature of which he does not reveal. His surgical instrument is the razor which he uses for shaving, and he does not resort to it until local applications, e.g., in a case of carbuncle, have failed.

In return for his multifarious services to the villagers, the Ambattan was given a free grant of land, for which he has even now to pay only a nominal tax. But, in the days when there was no survey or settlement, if the barber neglected his duties, he was threatened with confiscation of his lands. At the present day, however, he can sell, mortgage, or make a gift thereof. As the Ambattans became divided up into a number of families, their duties in the village were parcelled out among them, so that each barber family became attached to certain families of other castes, and was entitled to certain rights from them. Among other claims, each barber family became entitled to three or four marakkāls of paddy (unhusked rice), which is the perquisite of the married members thereof. It may be noted that, in village communities, lands were granted not only to the barber, but also to village officials such as the blacksmith, carpenter, washerman, astrologer, priest, dancing-girl, etc.

In his capacity of barber, the Ambattan is called Nāsivan (unholy man), or, according to the Census Reports, Nāsuvan (sprung from the nose), or Nāvidan. He is also known as Panditan or Pariyāri (doctor), and [40]Kudimaghan (son of the ryot). The last of these names is applied to him especially on occasions of marriage, when to call him Nāsivan would be inauspicious. The recognised insigne of his calling is the small looking-glass, which he carries with him, together with the razor, and sometimes tweezers and ear-pick. He must salute his superiors by prostrating himself on his stomach, folding his arms, and standing at a respectful distance. He may not attend at Brāhman houses on new or full-moon days, Tuesday, Saturday, and special days such as Ekādasi and Dwādasi. The most proper days are Sunday and Monday. The quality of the shave varies with the skill of the individual, and there is a Tamil proverb “Go to an old barber and a new washerman.” Stories are extant of barbers shaving kings while they were asleep without waking them, and it is said that the last Rāja of Tanjore used to be thus entertained with exhibitions of their skill. The old legend of the barber who, in return for shaving a Rāja without awakening him, requested that he might be made a Brāhman, and how the Court jester Tennāli Rāman got the Rāja to cancel his agreement, has recently been re-told in rhyme.17 It is there described how the barber lathered the head “with water alone, for soap he had none.” The modern barber, however, uses soap, either a cheap quality purchased in the bazar, or a more expensive brand supplied by his client.

By a curious corruption, Hamilton’s bridge, which connects the Triplicane and Mylapore divisions of the city of Madras, has become converted into Ambattan, or barber’s bridge. And the barber, as he shaves you, will tell how, in days before the bridge was built, the channel became unfordable during a north-east monsoon flood. [41]A barber, who lived on the Triplicane side, had to shave an engineer, whose house was on the Mylapore side. With difficulty he swam across, and shaved the sahib while he was asleep without waking him, and, in return, asked that, in the public interests, a bridge should be built over the channel.

Ambattans of Travancore.—For the following note I am indebted to Mr. N. Subramani Aiyer. The barbers of Travancore are called by various designations, those in Central and South Travancore preferring to be known by the name of Kshaurakan or Kshaurakkāran, a corruption of the Sanskrit kshuraka, while Ambattan seems to find general favour in the south. A curious name given to the caste throughout Travancore is Prānopakāri, or one who helps the souls, indicating their priestly functions in the ceremonials of various castes. A contraction of this name found in the early settlement records is Prānu. The members of those families from which kings and noblemen have at any time selected their barbers are called Vilakkittalavan, or more properly Vilakkuttalayan, meaning literally those who shave heads. In North Travancore many families are in possession of royal edicts conferring upon them the title of Panikkar, and along with it the headmanship of the barber families of the village in which they reside. Others have the title of Vaidyan or doctor, from the secondary occupation of the caste.

Endless endogamous septs occur among the barbers, and, at Trivandrum, there are said to be four varieties called Chala Vazhi, Pāndi Vazhi, Attungal Vazhi, and Peruntanni Vazhi. But it is possible to divide all the Kshaurakans of Travancore into three classes, viz., Malayālam-speaking Ambattans, who follow the makkathāyam law of inheritance; (2) Malayālam-speaking [42]Ambattans who follow the marumakkathāyam law of inheritance; (3) Tamil-speaking barbers, who have in many localities adopted Malayālam as their mother-tongue, and indicate their recent conversion in this direction by preserving unchanged the dress and ornaments of their womenkind. In Pattanapūram, for example, there is a class of Malayālam-speaking barbers known as Pūlāns who immigrated into that taluk from the Tamil country about two hundred years ago, and reveal their kinship with the Tamil-speaking barbers in various ways. In Kottayam and some other North Travancore tāluks, a large number of barbers may be described as recent converts of this character. In theory at least, the makkathāyam and marumakkathāyam Ambattans may be said to form two distinct endogamous groups, of which the former regard themselves as far superior to the latter in social position. Sometimes the makkathāyam Ambattans give their girls in marriage to the marumakkathāyam Ambattans, though the converse can never hold good. But, in these cases, the girl is not permitted to re-enter the paternal home, and associate with the people therein.

A local tradition describes the Travancore Kshaurakans as pursuing their present occupation owing to the curse of Surabhi, the divine calf. Whatever their origin, they have faithfully followed their traditional occupation, and, in addition, many study medicine in their youth, and attend to the ailments of the villagers, while the women act as midwives. When a high-caste Hindu dies, the duty of supplying the fuel for the funeral pyre, and watching the burning ground, devolves on the barber.

In their dress and ornaments the Travancore barbers closely resemble the Nāyars, but some wear round gold beads and a conch-shaped marriage jewel round the [43]neck, to distinguish their women from those of the Nāyars. This, however, does not hold good in South Travancore, where the women have entirely adopted the Nāyar type of jewelry. Tattooing prevails to a greater extent among the barbers than among other classes, but has begun to lose its popularity.

The barbers not only worship the ordinary Hindu deities, but also adore such divinities as Murti, Māden, and Yakshi. The corpses of those who die as the result of accident or contagious disease, are buried, not burnt. A sorcerer is called on to raise the dead from the grave, and, at his instance, a kuryala or small thatched shed is erected, to provide a sanctum for the resurrected spirit. Every year, in the month of Makaram (January-February), the day on which the Utradam star falls is taken as the occasion for making offerings to these spirits.

In every village certain families had bestowed on them by the chieftains of Kērala the right of deciding all questions affecting the caste. All social offences are tried by them, and the decision takes the form of an order to celebrate ianangūttu or feast of the equals, at which the first article served on the leaf placed before the assembled guests is not food, but a sum of money.

The tāli-kettu and sambandham ceremonies are celebrated, the former before, and the latter after the girl has reached puberty. The preliminary rites of betrothal and kāpu-kettu (tying the string round the wrist) over, the bridegroom enters the marriage hall in procession. There are no Vēdic rites; nor is there any definite priest for the marriage ceremony. The conch-shell is blown at odd intervals, this being considered indispensable. The festivities last for four days. A niece and nephew are regarded as the most legitimate spouses of a son and daughter respectively. [44]

After the cremation or burial of a corpse, a rope is held by two of the relations between the dead person’s remains and the karta (chief mourner), and cut in two, as if to indicate that all connection between the karta and the deceased has ceased. This is called bandham aruppu, or severing of connection. Pollution lasts for sixteen days among all sections of the barbers, except the Tamils, who regain their purity after a death in the family on the eleventh day.

Ambiga.—A synonym of Kabbēra.

Ambojala (lotus: Nelumbium).—A house-name of Korava.

Amma (mother).—A sub-division of Pallan and Paraiyan. It is also the title of the various goddesses, or mothers, such as Ellamma, Māriamma, etc., which are worshipped as Grāma Dēvatas (village deities) at the temples known as Amman-kōil.

Ammukkuvan.—A sub-division of Katalarayan.18 (See Vālan.)

Anapa (Dolichos Lablab).—A gōtra of Kōmati.

Anasa (ferrule).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Anchu (edge or border).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Andara (pandal or booth).—A sept of Kuruba.

Andē.—Andē (a pot) as a division of the Kurubas refers to the small bamboo or wooden vessel used when milking goats. It further denotes a division of the Koragas, who used to wear a pot suspended from their necks, into which they were compelled to spit, so as not to defile the highway.

Andēraut.—Recorded, in the Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Kurumba. Probably a form of Andē [45]Kuruba. Raut is frequently a title of headmen among Lingāyats.

Āndi.—In a note on Āndis in the Madras Census Report, 1901, Mr. W. Francis writes that “for a Brāhman or an ascetic, mendicancy was always considered an honourable profession, to which no sort of shame attached. Manu says ‘a Brāhman should constantly shun worldly honour, as he would shun poison, and rather constantly seek disrespect as he would seek nectar’; and every Brāhman youth was required to spend part of his life as a beggar. The Jains and Buddhists held the same views. The Hindu Chattrams19 and Uttupuras, the Jain Pallis, and the Buddhist Vihāras owe their origin to this attitude, they being originally intended for the support of the mendicant members of these religions. But persons of other than the priestly and religious classes were expected to work for their living, and were not entitled to relief in these institutions. Begging among such people—unless, as in the case of the Pandārams and Āndis, a religious flavour attaches to it—is still considered disreputable. The percentage of beggars in the Tamil districts to the total population is .97, or more than twice what it is in the Telugu country, while in Malabar it is as low as .09. The Telugus are certainly not richer as a class than the Tamils, and the explanation of these differences is perhaps to be found in the fact that the south is more religiously inclined than the north, and has more temples and their connected charities (religion and charity go hand in hand in India), and so offers more temptation to follow begging as a profession. Āndis are Tamil beggars. They are really inferior to Pandārams, but the two terms are in [46]practice often indiscriminately applied to the same class of people. Pandārams are usually Vellālas by caste, but Āndis are recruited from all classes of Sūdras, and they consequently have various sub-divisions, which are named after the caste to which the members of each originally belonged, such as the Jangam Āndis, meaning beggars of the Jangam caste, and the Jōgi Āndis, that is, Āndis of the Jōgi caste. They also have occupational and other divisions, such as the Kōvil Āndis, meaning those who do service in temples, and the Mudavāndis or the lame beggars. Āndi is in fact almost a generic term. All Āndis are not beggars however; some are bricklayers, others are cultivators, and others are occupied in the temples. They employed Brāhman priests at their ceremonies, but all of them eat meat and drink alcohol. Widows and divorcées may marry again. Among the Tinnevelly Āndis, the sister of the bridegroom ties the tāli (marriage badge) round the bride’s neck, which is not usual.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the Āndis are summed up as “beggars who profess the Saiva faith. They may be found in all the Tamil districts, begging from door to door, beating a small gong with a stick. The Āndis differ from most other castes, in that a person of any caste may join their community. Some of them officiate as priests in village temples, especially when large sacrifices of goats, buffaloes, and pigs are made. They usually bury the dead. They have returned 105 sub-divisions, of which the most important are the following:—Jangam, Kōmanāndi, Lingadāri, Mudavāndi, and Uppāndi. Kōmanam is the small loin cloth, and a Kōmanāndi goes naked, except for this slight concession to decency. Mudam means lame, and the Mudavāndis (q.v.) are allowed to claim any deformed child belonging to the Konga Vellāla caste. [47]The etymology of Uppāndi is difficult, but it is improbable that it has any connection with uppu, salt.

In the Tanjore Manual, it is noted that “in its ordinary acceptation the word Āndi means houseless beggars, and is applied to those who profess the Saiva faith. They go out every morning, begging for alms of uncooked rice, singing ballads or hymns. They play on a small gong called sēmakkalam with a stick, and often carry a conch shell, which they blow. They are given to drinking.”

It is recorded20 that “South Indian beggars are divided into two classes, Panjathāndi and Paramparaiāndi. The former are famine-made beggars, and the latter are beggars from generation to generation. The former, a common saying goes, would rob from the person of a child at a convenient opportunity, while the latter would jump into a well, and pick up a child which had fallen into it by an accident, and make it over to its parents.”

Āndi (a god) occurs as an exogamous section of Sirukudi Kallans.

Āndinia.—Recorded by Mr. F. Fawcett as an inferior sub-division of Dōmbs, who eat frogs.

Āndurān.—A sub-division of Nāyar potters, who manufacture earthenware articles for use in temples. The name is derived from Āndūr, a place which was once a fief under the Zamorin of Calicut.

Ānē (elephant).—An exogamous sept of Holeya, Kāppiliyan, Kuruba, Kādu Kurumba, Mogēr, and Gangadikāra Vakkaliga. Yēnigala or Yēnuga (elephant) is further an exogamous sept of Kāpus, who will not touch ivory. Ānai-kombu (elephant tusk) occurs as a sub-division of Idaiyan. [48]

Angārakudu (the planet Mars).—A synonym of Mangala.

Anja.—In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Ajna is returned as a sub-division of Pallan. This, however, seems to be a mistake for Anja (father), by which name these Pallans address their fathers.

Anju Nāl (five days).—Recorded in the Salem Manual, as a name given to Pallis who perform the death ceremony on the fifth day after death.

Anjuttān (men of the five hundred).—Recorded at times of census, as a sub-division of Panān, and a synonym of Vēlan. In the Gazetteer of Malabar, it appears as a sub-division of Mannāns, who are closely akin to the Vēlans. The equivalent Anjūttilkar occurs as a synonym for Tenkanchi Vellālas in Travancore.

Anna (brother).—The title of numerous classes, e.g., Dāsari, Gavara, Golla, Konda Dora, Koppala Velama, Mangala, Mila, Paidi, and Segidi.

Annam (cooked rice).—An exogamous sept of Gamalla and Togata.

Annāvi.—A title of Savalakkārans, who play on the nāgasaram (reed instrument) in temples.

Antalavar.—Recorded in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Antarāla.—A synonym of Ambalavāsi, denoting those who occupy an intermediate position between Brāhmans and Sūdras.

Antarjanam (inside person).—A term applied to Nambūtiri Brāhman females, who live in seclusion.21

Anuloma.—One of the two classes of Sūdras, viz., Anuloma and Veloma. The term Anuloma is applied to those born of a higher-caste male and a lower-caste [49]female, e.g., barbers are said to be the offspring of a Brāhman and a Vaisya woman.

Anumala (seeds of Dolichos Lablab).—An exogamous sept of Dēvānga. The equivalent Anumolla occurs as an exogamous sept of Kamma.

Anuppan.—The Anuppans are described, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, as “a small caste of Canarese farmers, found chiefly in the districts of Madura, Tinnevelly, and Coimbatore. Their original home appears to have been Mysore or South Canara, probably the former. Their language is a corrupt form of Canarese. The most important sub-division is Allikulam (lily clan). Some of them are Saivites, and others Vaishnavites. Brāhmans are employed as priests by the Vaishnavites, but not by the Saivites. Remarriage of widows is practised, but a woman divorced for adultery cannot remarry during the life-time of her husband.”

In the Gazetteer of the Madura district, it is stated that “the Anuppans are commonest in the Kambam valley. They have a tradition regarding their migration thither, which closely resembles that current among the Kāppiliyans and Tottiyans (q.v.). Local tradition at Kambam says that the Anuppans were in great strength here in olden days, and that quarrels arose, in the course of which the chief of the Kāppiliyans, Rāmachcha Kavandan, was killed. With his dying breath he cursed the Anuppans, and thenceforth they never prospered, and now not one of them is left in the town. Their title is Kavandan. They are divided into six territorial groups called Mēdus, which are named after three villages in this district, and three in Tinnevelly. Over each of these is a headman called the Periyadanakkāran, and the three former are also subject to a Guru who lives at Sirupālai near Madura. These three are divided again [50]into eighteen kilais or branches, each of which intermarries only with certain of the others. Caste panchāyats (councils) are held on a blanket, on which (compare the Tottiyan custom) is placed a pot of water containing margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, to symbolise the sacred nature of the meeting. Women who go astray with men of other castes are expelled, and various ceremonies, including (it is said) the burying alive of a goat, are enacted to show that they are dead to the community. The right of a man to his paternal aunt’s daughter is as vigorously maintained as among the Kāppiliyans and Tottiyans, and leads to the same curious state of affairs (i.e., a woman, whose husband is too young to fulfil the duties of his position, is allowed to consort with his near relations, and the children so begotten are treated as his). No tāli (marriage badge) is tied at weddings, and the binding part of the ceremonies is the linking, on seven separate occasions, of the little fingers of the couple. Like the Kāppiliyans, the Anuppans have many caste and family deities, a number of whom are women who committed sati.” (See Kāppiliyan).

Apoto.—Apoto, or Oppoto, is a sub-division of Gaudos, the occupation of which is palanquin-bearing.

Appa (father).—A title of members of various Telugu and Canarese castes, e.g., Īdiga, Kannadiyan, Linga Balija, and Tambala.

Arab.—A Muhammadan territorial name, returned at times of census. In the Mysore Census Report, 1901, the Arabs are described as itinerant tradesmen, whose chief business is horse-dealing, though some deal in cloths.

Ārādhya.—For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Ārādhyas are a sect of Brāhmans found mainly in the four northern districts of the Madras Presidency, and to a smaller extent in the [51]Cuddapah and Kurnool districts. A few are also found in the Mysore State. They differ in almost every important respect from other Brāhmans. Basava, the founder of the Lingāyat religion, was born in a family of Brāhmans, who, with others round about them, were apparently the first converts to his religion. According to Mr. C. P. Brown,22 they were “in all probability his personal friends; he persuaded them to lay aside their name, and call themselves Ārādhya or Reverend.’ They revere the four Ārādhyas, visionary personages of the Lingāyat creed, of whom very little is known. At all social and religious functions, birth, marriage, initiation and funerals, four vases of water are solemnly placed in their name, and then invoked to preside over them. Their names are Rēvanārādhya, Marulārādhya, Ekorāmarādhya, and Panditārādhya. In four ages, it is said, these four successively appeared as precursors of the divine Basava, and were, like Basava, Brāhmans. A Purāna, known as the Panditārādhya Charitra, is named after the last of these. Versions thereof are found both in Canarese and Telugu. A Sanskrit poem, called Siddhānta Sikhāmani, represents Rēvanārādhya as a human manifestation of one of the ministers of Siva.

As might be expected, the members of this sect are staunch Saivites. They wear both the Brāhminical sacred thread, and the linga suspended from another thread. They revere in particular Ganapathi. The lingam which they wear they usually call the prāna lingam, or life lingam. The moment a child, male or female, is born, it is invested with the lingam; otherwise it is not considered to have prānam or life. The popular belief is that, if by some accident the lingam is lost, a man must either fast [52]until he recovers it, or not survive so dire a calamity. This is a fixed dogma with them. A man who loses his prāna linga stands up to his neck in water, and repeats mantrams (sacred formulæ) for days together; and, on the last day, the lost lingam comes back to him miraculously, if he has been really orthodox in his life. If he does not succeed in recovering it, he must starve and die. The theory is that the lingam is the life of the man who wears it, and, when it is lost beyond recovery, he loses his own life. Incredible stories of miraculous recoveries of the lingam are told. In one case, it is said to have returned to its owner, making a loud noise in water; and in another it was found in a box under lock and key. In this connection, the following story is narrated by Colonel Wilks.23 “Poornia, the present minister of Mysore, relates an incident of a Lingāyat friend of his, who had unhappily lost his portable God, and came to take a last farewell. The Indians, like more enlightened nations, readily laugh at the absurdities of every sect but their own, and Poornia gave him better counsel. It is a part of the ceremonial preceding the sacrifice of the individual that the principal persons of the sect should assemble on the bank of some holy stream, and, placing in a basket the lingam images of the whole assembly, purify them in the sacred waters. The destined victim in conformity to the advice of his friend, suddenly seized the basket, and overturned its contents into the rapid Caveri. Now, my friends, said he, we are on equal terms; let us prepare to die together. The discussion terminated according to expectation. The whole party took an oath of inviolable secrecy, and each privately provided himself with a new image of the lingam.”


Ārādhyas, as has been indicated, differ from other Brāhmans in general in some of their customs. Before they partake of food, they make an offering of it to the lingam which they are wearing. As they cannot eat without making this offering, they have the entire meal served up at the commencement thereof. They offer the whole to the lingam, and then begin to eat. They do not accept offerings distributed in temples as other Brāhmans do, because they have already been offered to the God, and cannot therefore be offered again to the lingam. Unlike other Lingāyats, Ārādhyas believe in the Vēdas, to which they give allegorical interpretations. They are fond of reading Sanskrit, and a few have been well-known Telugu poets. Thus, Pālapūri Sōmanātha, who lived in the fourteenth century A.D., composed the Basava Purāna and the Panditārādhya Charitra, and the brothers Piduparthi Sōmanātha and the Basavakavi, who lived in the sixteenth century, composed other religious works.

Ārādhyas marry among themselves, and occasionally take girls in marriage from certain of the Niyōgi sub-divisions of the Northern Circars. This would seem to show that they were themselves Niyōgis, prior to their conversion. They do not intermarry with Āruvēlu Niyōgis. Unlike other Brāhmans, they bury their dead in a sitting posture. They observe death pollution for ten days, and perform the ekodishta and other Brāhminical ceremonies for their progenitors. They perform annually, not the Brāhminical srādha, but the ārādhana. In the latter, there is no apasavyam (wearing the sacred thread from right to left), and no use of gingelly seeds and dharba grass. Nor is there hōmam (raising the sacrificial fire), parvānam (offering of rice-balls), or oblation of water. Widows do not have their heads shaved. [54]

The title of the Ārādhyas is always Ārādhya.

Arakala.—A small class of cultivators, recorded mainly from the Kurnool district. The name is possibly derived from araka, meaning a plough with bullocks, or from arakadu, a cultivator.

Arampukatti.—The name, denoting those who tie flower-buds or prepare garlands, of a sub-division of Vellālas.

Aranādan, See Ernādan.

Arane (lizard).—An exogamous sub-sept of Kāppiliyan.

Arashina (turmeric).—A gōtra or exogamous sept of Agasa, Kurni, Kuruba, and Oddē. The equivalent Pasupula occurs as an exogamous sept of Dēvānga. In Southern India, turmeric (Curcuma) is commonly called saffron (Crocus). Turmeric enters largely into Hindu ceremonial. For example, the practice of smearing the face with it is very widespread among females, and, thinking that it will give their husbands increase of years, women freely bathe themselves with turmeric water. The use of water, in which turmeric has been infused, and by which they give the whole body a bright yellow colour, is prescribed to wives as a mark of the conjugal state, and forbidden to widows.24 To ward off the evil eye, a vessel containing turmeric water and other things is waved in front of the bridal couple at weddings. Or they are bathed in turmeric water, which they pour over each other. The tāli or bottu (gold marriage badge) is attached to a cotton thread dyed with turmeric, and, among some castes, the tying together of the hands of the bride and bridegroom with such a thread is the binding portion of the ceremony. [55]

Arasu or Rājpinde.—“This caste,” Mr. Lewis Rice writes (1877):—25 “are relatives of or connected with the Rājahs of Mysore. During the life-time of the late Mahārāja, they were divided into two factions in consequence of the refusal of thirteen families headed by the Dalavayi (the chief of the female branch) to pay respect to an illegitimate son of His Highness. The other eighteen families consented to the Rājah’s wishes, and treat the illegitimate branch, called Komarapatta, as equals. The two divisions intermarry and eat together, and the family quarrel, though serious at the time, is not likely to be permanent. They are employed chiefly under Government and in agriculture, most of the former being engaged in the palace at Mysore. Rājpindes are both Vishnavites and Sivites, and their priests are both Brāhmans and Lingāyat Waders.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1891, Arasu (= Rāja or king) is given as a sub-division of the Tamil Pallis and Paraiyans. Urs appears as a contracted form of Arasu in the names of the Mysore royal family, e.g., Kantarāj Urs.

Ārathi.—The name, indicating a wave offering to avert the evil eye, of an exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Arati (plantain tree).—An exogamous sept of Chenchu.

Arava.—Arava, signifying Tamil, has been recorded as a sub-division of some Telugu classes, e.g., Golla and Velama. The name, however, refers to Tamil Idaiyans and Vellālas, who have settled in the Telugu country, and are known respectively as Arava Golla and Arava Velama. In some places in the Telugu country, Tamil Paraiyans, employed as servants under Europeans, horse-keepers, etc., are known as Arava Mālalu (Mālas). The [56]Irulas of the North Arcot district are, in like manner, sometimes called Arava Yānādis. Arava also occurs as a division of Tigalas, said to be a section of the Tamil Pallis, who have settled in Mysore. An ingenious suggestion has been made that Arava is derived from ara, half, vayi, mouthed, in reference to the defective Tamil alphabet, or to the termination of the words being mostly in consonants.

Aravan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Arayan.—See Vālan.

Archaka.—Archaka, or Umai Archaka, is a title of Ōcchans, who are priests at temples of Grāma Dēvatas (village deities).

Ārē.—A synonym for Marāthi. The name occurs as a sub-division of Kunchigar and Kudubi. In South Canara Ārya Kshatri occurs as the equivalent of Ārē, and, in the Telugu country, Ārē Kāpu refers to Marāthi cultivators. Ārya Kūttādi is a Tamil synonym of Marāthi Dommaras. Concerning the Ārēs, Mr. H. G. Stuart writes as follows.26 “Of the total number of 6,809 Ārēs, 4,373 are found in South Canara, Bellary and Anantapur, and these are true Ārēs. Of the rest I am not able to speak with certainty, as the term Ārya, which is a synonym of Ārē, is also used as an equivalent of Marāthi, and sometimes in a still wider sense. The true Ārēs are husbandmen of Marātha origin. They wear the sacred thread, have Brāhmans as their priests, and give allegiance to the head of the Sringēri Mutt. Marriage of girls takes place either before or after puberty, and the remarriage of widows is not allowed. A husband may divorce his wife for adultery, but a wife [57]cannot divorce her husband. When the guilt of a woman is proved, and the sanction of the Guru obtained, the husband performs the act of divorce by cutting a pumpkin in two at a place where three ways meet. The use of animal food is allowed, but intoxicating liquors are forbidden.” The Ārēs of South Canara, Mr. Stuart writes further,27 “usually speak Marāthi or Konkani, but in the Kāsaragōd tāluk, and possibly in other parts too, they speak Canarese. Their exogamous septs are called manathanas. They use the dhāre form of marriage (see Bant), but the pot contains a mixture of water, milk, ghee (clarified butter), honey and curds instead of the usual plain water.”

The Marāthi-speaking Arēyavaru or Aryavaru of the South Canara district follow the makkala santāna law of inheritance (from father to son). For ceremonial purposes, they engage Shivalli Brāhmans. An interesting feature of the marriage rites is that the bridegroom makes a pretence of going to a battle-field to fight, presumably to show that he is of Kshatriya descent. The ceremony is called dandāl jātai. The bridegroom ties a bead on the neck of the bride if of the Powar sept, and a disc if of the Edar sept. The Ārēyavaru eat fowls and fish. The former are killed after certain mantrams (prayers) have been uttered, and, if a priest is available, it is his duty to despatch the bird. The caste deity is Ammanōru (Durga), in the worship of whom the Ārēyavaru, like other Marātha castes, employ Gondala mendicants.

Are (Bauhinia racemosa).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Āri.—The Āris or Dūtans are described, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a “small but [58]interesting community confined to a village in the Tovala tāluk. By traditional occupation they are the Ambalavāsis of the Saivaite temple of Darsanamkōppa. They are strict vegetarians, wear the Brāhminical thread, perform all the Brāhminical ceremonies under the guidance of Brāhman priests, and claim a position equal to that of the Āryappattars. But they are not allowed to dine with the Brāhmans, or to enter the mandapa in front of the garbhagriha, the inner sanctuary of a Hindu shrine. Their dress and ornaments are like those of the Tamil Brāhmans, and their language is Tamil. Their period of pollution, however, is as long as fifteen days.”

Āri (ebony).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Arigala.—Arigala, denoting a dish carried in procession, occurs as an exogamous sept of Mutrācha. Arigala and Arika, both meaning the millet Paspalum scrobiculatum, are septs of Jātapu and Panta Reddi. The latter may not use the grain as food.

Arikuravan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Arisi.—A sub-division of Savara.

Āriyar.—Ariyar or Āriyanāttu Chetti is given as a caste title by Pattanavans.

Ariyur.—Āriyūr or Ariviyūr is the name of a sub-division of Nāttukōttai Chettis.

Arli (Ficus religiosa).—An exogamous sept of Stānika.

Ārudra (lady-bird).—An exogamous sept of Kālingi.

Arupathukatchi (sixty house section).—A sub-division of Valluvan.

Arupattanālu Taleikattu (sixty-four, who covered their heads).—A sub-division of Chetti. [59]

Aruththukattātha.—The name, meaning those who do not tie the tāli a second time, of a section of Paraiyans who do not allow the remarriage of widows.

Aruva.—The Aruvas are an interesting caste of cultivators along the sea-coast in the Berhampūr tāluk of Ganjam. They say that they are descended from the offspring of alliances between Patānis (Muhammadans) and Oriya women. Like other Oriya castes, they have a number of titles, e.g., Nāyako, Pātro, Podhāno, Ponda, Mondolo, and Mollana, some of which seem to be exogamous, and there are also numerous exogamous septs or bamsams. The headman is styled Nāyako, and he is assisted by a Bhollobhaya. Both these offices are hereditary. The Aruvas say that they belong to two Vēdas, viz., the males to Atharva Vēda, and the females to Yajur Vēda. Muhammadans are believed by them to be Atharvavēdis.

A member of the caste, called Mollana, officiates on ceremonial occasions. A pure Oriya casteman will not allow his son to marry his sister’s daughter, but this is permitted in most places by the Aruvas. The marriage ceremonial, except in a few points of detail, conforms to the general Oriya type. On the day before the wedding, a milk-post of bamboo is erected, and in front of it a new cloth, and various articles for worship are placed. When the fingers of the contracting couple are linked together, and at other stages of the marriage rites, the Mollana recites certain formulæ, in which the words Bismillahi and Allah occur.

The dead are always buried. In former days, stone slabs, with Arabic or Hindustani legends in Oriya characters inscribed on them, used to be set up over the grave. For these, two sticks are now substituted. The corpse of a dead person is sewn up in a kind of sack. [60]As it is being lowered into the grave, the Mollana recites formulæ, and those present throw earth over it before the grave is filled in. They then take their departure, and the Mollana, standing on one leg, recites further formulæ. On the following day, bitter food, consisting of rice and margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, is prepared, and given to the agnates. On the third day after death, the burial-ground is visited, and, after water has been poured over the grave, a cloth is spread thereon. On this relations of the deceased throw earth and food. A purificatory ceremony, in which ghī (clarified butter) is touched, is performed on the fifteenth day. On the fortieth day, the Mollana officiates at a ceremony in which food is offered to the dead person.

The Aruvas do not take part in any Muhammadan ceremonial, and do not worship in mosques. Most of them are Paramarthos, and all worship various Hindu deities and Tākurānis (village gods). At their houses, the god is represented by a mass of mud of conical shape, with an areca nut on the top of it. In recent times, a number of Aruva families, owing to a dispute with the Mollana, do not employ him for their ceremonials, in which they follow the standard Oriya type. They neither interdine nor intermarry with other sections of the community, and have become an independent section thereof.

Ārya.—Ārya or Āriya (noble) occurs as a class of Pattar Brāhmans, a division of Sāmagāras, and an exogamous sept of Kurubas. Some Pattanavans call themselves Āriya Nāttu Chetti (Chettis of the country of chiefs), Āriyar, or Ayyāyirath Thalaivar (the five thousand chiefs).

Āsādi.—The Āsādis of the Bellary district are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a [61]sub-caste of Māla or Holeya, which, in Bellary, are almost interchangeable terms. They are prostitutes and dancers.” Among the Mādigas, men called Āsādi, who have undergone an initiation ceremony, go about, in company with the Mātangis (dedicated prostitutes), playing on an instrument called the chaudike, and singing the praises and reciting the story of Ellammā. (See Mādiga.)

Āsan (teacher).—The title of Variyans, who have held the hereditary position of tutors in noblemen’s families. Also a title of Pishārati and Kanisan.

Āsāri.—In most parts of the Madras Presidency, Mr. H. A. Sturat writes, “Āsāri (or Āchāri) is synonymous with Kammālan, and may denote any of the five artizan castes, but in Malabar it is practically confined to the carpenter caste. The Āsāri of Malabar is the Brāhman of the Kammāla castes. The Kammāla castes generally pollute Nāyars by approaching within twelve feet, and Brāhmans by coming within thirty-six feet; but an Āsāri with his measuring rod in his hand has the privilege of approaching very near, and even entering the houses of higher castes without polluting them. This exception may have arisen out of necessity.” At the census, 1901, some Sāyakkārans (Tamil dyers) returned Āsāri as a title.

In a Government office, a short time ago, the head clerk, a Brāhman named Rangachāri, altered the spelling of the name of a Kammālan from Velayudachāri to Velayudasāri in the office books, on the ground that the former looked Brāhmanical.

Ashtākshari (eight syllables).—A sub-division of Sātānis, who believe in the efficacy of the eight syllables ōm-na-mō-nā-rā-yā-nā-ya in ensuring eternal bliss. The name ashtabhukkulu, or those who eat the eight [62]greedily, also occurs as a sub-division of the same people.

Ashtalohi.—The name, meaning workers in eight metals, of a small class of Oriya artizans. According to one version the eight metals are gold, silver, bell-metal, copper, lead, tin, iron, and brass; according to another, gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, load-stone, iron, and steel.

Ashtikurissi.—Ashtikurissi (ashti, a bone) or Attikurissi is an occupational sub-division of Nāyars and Mārāns, who officiate at the funerals of Nambūtiri Brāhmans and Nāyars, and help in collecting the remains of the bones after cremation.

Asili.—The name for Telugu toddy-drawers in the Cuddapah district. (See Idiga.)

Āsupāni.—An occupational name for Mārāns who play on the temple musical instruments āsu and pāni.

Asvo (horse).—An exogamous sept of Ghāsi.

Atagara or Hatagara.—A sub-division of Dēvānga.

Aththi (Ficus glomerata).—An exogamous sept of Stānika.

Atikunnan.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a sub-division of Nāyar.

Ātreya.—A Brāhmanical gōtra of Bhatrāzus. Ātreyas are descendants of Ātri, a rishi who is regarded by some as one of the ten Prajapatis of Manu.

Ātta (mother).—A sub-division of Pallan.

Āttangarai (river-bank).—A sub-division of Konga Vellāla.

Attikankana (cotton marriage thread).—A sub-division of Kurubas, who tie a cotton thread round the wrist at weddings.

Ātumpātram.—A name, meaning an object which dances, for Dēva-dāsis in Travancore. [63]

Aunvallur (possessors of cattle).—A fanciful name for Idaiyans.

Avaru.—A synonym of Agaru.

Aviri (Indigofera tinctoria).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālēs, who use indigo in the manufacture of coloured cloth fabrics.

Avisa (Sesbania grandiflora).—A gōtra of Mēdara.

Āvu (snake).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Āvula (cow).—An exogamous sept of Balija, Bōya, Golla, Kāpu, Korava, Mutrācha, and Yerukala.

Āyar (cow-herd).—A synonym or sub-division of Idaiyan and Kōlayān.

Ayōdhya (Oudh).—A sub-division of Kāpus, who say that they originally lived in Oudh.

Āzhāti.—Recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, as a synonym of Pishārati.

1 Malabar Law and Custom.

2 F. Fawcett. Journ. Anth. Soc., Bombay, 1, 1888.

3 Malabar Law and Custom.

4 Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom.

5 Madras Census Report, 1891.

6 Madras Census Report, 1901.

7 Manual of the North Arcot district.

8 Manual of the Madura district.

9 Description of the Character, Manners and Customs of the People of India.

10 Madras Census Report, 1891.

11 Mysore Census Report, 1891, 1901; Rice, Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.

12 Hindu Manners and Customs. Ed. 1897.

13 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

14 Ambalam is an open space or building, where affairs connected with justice are transacted. Ambalakkāran denotes the president of an assembly, or one who proclaims the decision of those assembled in an ambalam.

15 Anuloma, the product of the connection of a man with a woman of a lower caste; Pratiloma, of the connection of a man with a woman of a higher caste.

16 Madras Mail, 1906.

17 A. P. Smith, Madras Review, 1902.

18 Cochin Census Report, 1901.

19 Houses where pilgrims and travellers are entertained, and fed gratuitously.

20 C. Hayavadana Rao. Tales of Komati Wit and Wisdom, 1907.

21 Wigram, Malabar Law and Custom.

22 Madras Journ. Lit. and Science, XI, 176, 1840.

23 Historical Sketches of the South of India.

24 Ellis. Kural.

25 Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, 1876–78.

26 Madras Census Report, 1891.

27 Manual of the South Canara district.


Badaga.—As the Todas are the pastoral, and the Kotas the artisan tribe of the Nīlgiris, so the agricultural element on these hills is represented by the Badagas (or, as they are sometimes called, Burghers). Their number was returned, at the census, 1901, as 34,178 against 1,267 Kotas, and 807 Todas. Though the primary occupation of the Badagas is agriculture, there are among their community schoolmasters, clerks, public works contractors, bricklayers, painters, carpenters, sawyers, tailors, gardeners, forest guards, barbers, washermen, and scavengers. Many work on tea and coffee estates, and gangs of Badagas can always be seen breaking stones on, and repairing the hill roads. Others are, at the present day, earning good wages in the Cordite Factory near Wellington. Some of the more prosperous [64]possess tea and coffee estates of their own. The rising generation are, to some extent, learning Tamil and English, in addition to their own language, which is said to resemble old Canarese. And I have heard a youthful Badaga, tending a flock of sheep, address an errant member thereof in very fluent Billingsgate. There were, in 1904–1905, thirty-nine Badaga schools, which were attended by 1,222 pupils. In 1907, one Badaga had passed the Matriculation of the Madras University, and was a clerk in the Sub-judge’s Court at Ootacamund.

A newspaper discussion was carried on a few years ago as to the condition of the Badagas, and whether they are a down-trodden tribe, bankrupt and impoverished to such a degree that it is only a short time before something must be done to ameliorate their condition, and save them from extermination by inducing them to emigrate to the Wynād and Vizagapatam. A few have, in recent years, migrated to the Anaimalai hills, to work on the planters’ estates, which have been opened up there. One writer stated that “the tiled houses, costing from Rs. 250 to Rs. 500, certainly point to their prosperity. They may frequently borrow from the Labbai to enable them to build, but, as I do not know of a single case in which the Labbai has ever seized the house and sold it, I believe this debt is soon discharged. The walled-in, terraced fields immediately around their villages, on which they grow their barley and other grains requiring rich cultivation, are well worked, and regularly manured. The coats, good thick blankets, and gold ear-rings, which most Badagas now possess, can only, I think, point to their prosperity, while their constant feasts, and disinclination to work on Sundays, show that the loss of a few days’ pay does not affect them. On the other hand, a former Native official on [65]the Nīlgiris writes to me that “though the average Badaga is thrifty and hard-working, there is a tendency for him to be lazy when he is sure of his meal. When a person is sick in another village, his relatives make it an excuse to go and see him, and they have to be fed. When the first crop is raised, the idler pretends that ‘worms’ have crept into the crop, and the gods have to be propitiated, and there is a feast. Marriage or death, of course, draws a crowd to be fed or feasted. All this means extra expenditure, and a considerable drain on the slender income of the family. The Rowthan (Muhammadan merchant) from the Tamil country is near at hand to lend money, as he has carried his bazar to the very heart of the Badaga villages. First it is a bag of rāgi (food grain), a piece of cloth to throw on the coffin, or a few rupees worth of rice and curry-stuff doled out by the all-accommodating Rowthan at a price out of all proportion to the market rate, and at a rate ranging from six pies to two annas for the rupee. The ever impecunious Badaga has no means of extricating himself, with a slender income, which leaves no margin for redeeming debts. The bond is renewed every quarter or half year, and the debt grows by leaps and bounds, and consumes all his earthly goods, including lands. The advent of lawyers on the hills has made the Badagas a most litigious people, and they resort to the courts, which means expenditure of money, and neglect of agriculture.” In the funeral song of the Badagas, which has been translated by Mr. Gover,1 one of the crimes enumerated, for which atonement must be made, is that of preferring a complaint to the Sirkar (Government), and one of their numerous proverbs embodies the same idea. “If you [66]prefer a complaint to a Magistrate, it is as if you had put poison into your adversary’s food.” But Mr. Grigg writes,2 “either the terrors of the Sirkar are not what they were, or this precept is much disregarded, for the Court-house at Ootacamund is constantly thronged with Badagas, and they are now very much given to litigation.”

I gather from the notes, which Bishop Whitehead has kindly placed at my disposal, that “when the Badagas wish to take a very solemn oath, they go to the temple of Māriamma at Sigūr, and, after bathing in the stream and putting on only one cloth, offer fruits, cocoanuts, etc., and kill a sheep or fowl. They put the head of the animal on the step of the shrine, and make a line on the ground just in front of it. The person who is taking the oath then walks from seven feet off in seven steps, putting one foot immediately in front of the other, up to the line, crosses it, goes inside the shrine, and puts out a lamp that is burning in front of the image. If the oath is true, the man will walk without any difficulty straight to the shrine. But, if the oath is not true, his eyes will be blinded, and he will not be able to walk straight to the shrine, or see the lamp. It is a common saying among Badagas, when a man tells lies, ‘Will you go to Sigūr, and take an oath?’ Oaths are taken in much the same way at the temple of Māriamma at Ootacamund. When a Hindu gives evidence in the Court at Ootacamund, he is often asked by the Judge whether he will take an oath at the Māriamma temple. If he agrees, he is sent off to the temple with a Court official. The party for whom he gives evidence supplies a goat or sheep, which is killed [67]at the temple, the head and carcase being placed in front of the image. The witness steps over the carcase, and this forms the oath. If the evidence is false, it is believed that some evil will happen to him.”

The name Badaga or Vadugan means northerner, and the Badagas are believed to be descended from Canarese colonists from the Mysore country, who migrated to the Nīlgiris three centuries ago owing to famine, political turmoil, or local oppression in their own country. It is worthy of notice, in this connection, that the head of the Badagas, like that of the Todas and Kotas, is dolichocephalic, and not of the mesaticephalic or sub-brachycephalic type, which prevails throughout Mysore, as in other Canarese areas.

Cephalic length. Cephalic breadth. Cephalic index.
cm. cm.
Badaga 18.9 13.6 71.7
Toda 19.4 14.2 73.3
Kota 19.2 14.2 74.1

Of the Mysorean heads, the following are a few typical examples:—

Cephalic length. Cephalic breadth. Cephalic index.
cm. cm.
Ganiga 18.5 14.3 77.6
Bēdar 18.3 14.3 77.7
Holeya 17.9 14.1 79.1
Mandya Brahman 18.5 14.8 80.2
Vakkaliga 17.7 14.5 81.7

Concerning the origin of the Badagas, the following legend is current. Seven brothers and their sisters were living on the Talamalai hills. A Muhammadan [68]ruler attempted to ravish the girl, whom the brother saved from him by flight. They settled down near the present village of Bethalhada. After a short stay there, the brothers separated, and settled in different parts of the Nīlgiris, which they peopled. Concerning the second brother, Hethappa, who had two daughters, the story goes that, during his absence on one occasion, two Todas forced their way into his house, ravished his wife, and possessed themselves of his worldly effects. Hearing of what had occurred, Hethappa sought the assistance of two Balayaru in revenging himself on the Todas. They readily consented to help him, in return for a promise that they should marry his daughters. The Todas were killed, and the present inhabitants of the village Hulikallu are supposed to be the descendants of the Balayaru and Badaga girls. The seven brothers are now worshipped under the name Hethappa or Hetha.

In connection with the migration of the Badagas to the Nīlgiris, the following note is given in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris. “When this flitting took place there is little to show. It must have occurred after the foundation of the Lingāyat creed in the latter half of the twelfth century, as many of the Badagas are Lingāyats by faith, and sometime before the end of the sixteenth century, since in 1602 the Catholic priests from the west coast found them settled on the south of the plateau, and observing much the same relations with the Todas as subsist to this day. The present state of our knowledge does not enable us to fix more nearly the date of the migration. That the language of the Badagas, which is a form of Canarese, should by now have so widely altered from its original as to be classed as a separate dialect argues that the movement took place nearer the twelfth than the sixteenth century. On the other hand, the [69]fact (pointed out by Dr. Rivers3) that the Badagas are not mentioned in a single one of the Todas’ legends about their gods, whereas the Kotas, Kurumbas, and Irulas, each play a part in one or more of these stories, raises the inference that the relations between the Badagas and the Todas are recent as compared with those between the other tribes. A critical study of the Badaga dialect might perhaps serve to fix within closer limits the date of the migration. As now spoken, this tongue contains letters (two forms of r for instance) and numerous words, which are otherwise met with only in ancient books, and which strike most strangely upon the ear of the present generation of Canarese. The date when some of these letters and words became obsolete might possibly be traced, and thus aid in fixing the period when the Badagas left the low country. It is known that the two forms of r, for example, had dropped out of use prior to the time of the grammarian Kēsirāja, who lived in the thirteenth century, and that the word betta (a hill), which the Badagas use in place of the modern bettu, is found in the thirteenth century work Sabdamanidarpana.”

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris, that “Nelliālam, about eight miles north-west of Dēvāla as the crow flies, is the residence of the Nelliālam Arasu (Urs), who has been recognised as the janmi (landlord) of a considerable area in the Munanād amsam, but is in reality a Canarese-speaking Lingāyat of Canarese extraction, who follows the ordinary Hindu law of inheritance, and is not a native of the Wynād or of Malabar. Family tradition, though now somewhat misty, says that in the beginning two brothers named Sadāsiva Rāja Urs and Bhujanga Rāja Urs moved (at some date and for [70]some reason not stated) from Ummattūr (in the present Chāmarājnagar taluk of Mysore), and settled at Malaikōta, the old fort near Kalhatti. Their family deities were Bhujangēsvara and Ummattūr Urakātti, which are still worshipped as such. They brought with them a following of Bēdars and Badagas, and thereafter always encouraged the immigration to the hills of more Canarese people. The village of Bannimara, a mile west of Kalhatti, is still peopled by Bēdars who are said to be descendants of people of that caste who came with the two brothers; and to this day, when the Badagas of the plateau have disputes of difficulty, they are said to go down to Nelliālam with presents (kānikai) in their hands, and ask the Arasu to settle their differences, while, at the time of their periodical ceremonies (manavalai) to the memory of their ancestors, they send a deputation to Nelliālam to invite representatives of the Arasu to be present.”

Close to the village of Bethalhada is a row of cromlechs carved with figures of the sun and moon, human beings, animals, etc., and enclosed within a stone kraal, which the Badagas claim to be the work of their ancestors, to whom periodical offerings are made. At the time of my visit, there were within one of the cromlechs a conch shell, lingam, bell, and flowers. A number of these sculptured cromlechs at Sholūr, Mēlūr, and other spots on the Nīlgiris, are described and figured by Breeks,4 who records that the cromlech at Jakata Kambē is interesting as being the place of the yearly sacrifice performed by the Badagas of the Jakanēri grāma (village) by their Kāni Kurumba. And he adds that the Badagas would seem to have usually selected the [71]neighbourhood of these cromlechs for their temples, as for example, at Mēlūr, Kakūsi, H’laiuru, Tudūr, and Jakatāda.

It is recorded5, in connection with the legends of the Badagas, that “in the heart of the Banagudi shōla, not far from the Doddūru group of cromlechs, is an odd little shrine to Karairāya, consisting of a ruined stone hut surrounded by a low wall, within which are a tiny cromlech, some sacred water-worn stones, and sundry little pottery images representing a tiger, a mounted man, and some dogs. These keep in memory, it is said, a Badaga who was slain in combat with a tiger; and annually a festival is held, at which new images are placed there, and vows are paid. A Kurumba makes fire by friction and burns incense, throws sanctified water over the numerous goats brought to be sacrificed, to see if they will shiver in the manner always held necessary in sacrificial victims, and then slays, one after the other, those which have shown themselves duly qualified. Hulikal Drūg, usually known as the Drūg, is a precipitous bluff at the very end of the range which borders on the south the great ravine which runs up to Coonoor. It is named from the neighbouring village of Hulikal, or tiger’s stone, and the story goes that this latter is so called because in it a Badaga killed a notorious man-eater which had long been the terror of the country side. The spot where the beast was buried is shown near the Pillaiyar temple to the south of Hulikal village, and is marked by three stones. Burton says there used formerly to be a stone image of the slain tiger thereabouts. Some two miles south-east of Kōnakarai in a place known as Kōttai-hāda, or the fort flat, lie [72]the remains of the old fort Udaiya Rāya Kōta. Badaga tradition gives a fairly detailed account of Udaiya Rāya. It says he was a chief who collected the taxes for the Ummattūr Rājas, and that he had also a fort at Kullanthorai, near Sirumugai, the remains of which are still to be seen. He married a woman of Netlingi hamlet of Nedugula, named Muddu Gavari, but she died by the wrath of the gods because she persuaded him to celebrate the annual fire-walking festival in front of the fort, instead of at the customary spot by the Mahālingasvāmi temple about half a mile off. Ānaikatti is a hamlet situated in the jungle of the Moyar valley. The stream which flows past it tumbles over a pretty fall on the slopes of Bīrmukkū (Bimaka) hill. The Badagas call the spot Kuduraihallo, or the ravine of the horse, and say the name was given it because a Badaga, covered with shame at finding that his wife gave him first sort rice but his brother who lived with them only second sort, committed suicide by jumping his horse down the fall.”

According to Mr. Grigg, the Badagas recognise eighteen different “castes or sects.” These are, however, simplified by Mr. S. M. Natesa Sāstri6 into six, “five high castes and one low caste.” They are—

1. Udaya. High caste.
2. Hāruva.
3. Adhikāri.
4. Kanaka.
5. Badaga.
6. Toreya Low caste.

“Udayas are Lingāyats in religion, and carry the Sivalinga—the Siva image—tied round their necks. They claim to be superior to all the other Badagas, and [73]are regarded as such. They are priests to all the Badagas of the Lingāyat class, and are strict vegetarians. They do not intermarry with any of the other high caste Badaga sects. Udaya was, and is the title assumed by the Maisūr Rājas, and those Badagas, by being thus designated as a caste, claim superior blood in their veins.” The Lingāyat Badagas are commonly called Lingakutti. “Next in rank come the Hāruvas. From their name being so closely connected with the Āryas—the respectable—and from their habit of wearing the Brāhmanical thread, we are warranted in believing that they must originally have been the poor Brāhman priests of the Badagas that migrated to this country (the Nīlgiris), though they have now got themselves closely mingled with the Badagas. These Hāruvas are also strict vegetarians, and act as priests.” It has been suggested that the Hāruvas (jumper) derive their name from the fire-walking ceremony, which they perform periodically. A further, and more probable suggestion has been made to me that Hāruva comes from a Canarese word meaning to beg or pray; hence one who begs or prays, and so a Brāhman. The Canarese Basava Purāna frequently uses the word in sense. “The Adhikāris are to a certain extent vegetarians. The other two high castes, and of course the low caste Toreyas also, have no objection of any kind to eating flesh. It is also said that the vegetarian Adhikāri, if he marries into a flesh-eating caste of the Badagas, betakes himself to this latter very readily.” The Kanakas are stated by Mr. Grigg to be the accountants, who were probably introduced when the hills were under the sway of the Tamil chiefs. This would, however, seem to be very improbable. “The Toreyas are regarded as sons and servants to the five high caste Badaga sects—to the Hāruvas especially. [74]They are the lowest in the scale, and they are prohibited from intermarrying with the other or high caste Badagas, as long as they are sons to them.” The Toreya does the menial duties for the tribe. He is the village servant, carries the corpses to the burning-ground, conveys the news of a death from village to village, is the first to get shaved when a death occurs, and is sent along with a woman when she is going to visit her mother or mother-in-law at a distance from her own home. “The Udayas, Adhikāris and Kanakas are Lingāyats in religion, and the other three, the Hāruvas, Badagas, and Toreyas are Saivites.” Of the six divisions referred to, the Udayas and Toreyas are endogamous, but intermarriage is permissible between the other four. At the census, 1891, a large number of Badagas returned as their sub-division Vakkaliga, which means cultivator, and is the name of the great cultivating caste of Mysore.

Seven miles west of Coonoor is a village named Athikārihatti, or village of the Athikāri or Adhikāri section of the Badagas. “The story goes that these people, under a leader named Karibetta Rāya, came from Sarigūr in Mysore territory, and settled first at Nelliturai (a short distance south-west of Mēttupālaiyam) and afterwards at Tūdūr (on the plateau west of Kulakambi) and Tadasimarahatti (to the north-west of Mēlūr), and that it was they who erected the sculptured cromlechs of Tūdūr and Mēlūr. Tūdūr and Tadasimarahatti are now both deserted; but in the former a cattle kraal, an old shrine, and a pit for fire-walking may still be seen, and in the latter another kraal, and one of the raised stone platforms called mandaikallu by the Badagas. Tradition says that the Badagas left these places and founded Athikārihatti and its hamlets instead, because the Kurumbas round about continually troubled [75]them with their magic arts, and indeed killed by sorcery several of their most prominent citizens.”7

Like other Canarese people, the Badagas have exogamous septs or kūlas, of which Māri, Madhave (marriage), Kastūri (musk), and Belli (silver) are examples. A very large number of families belong to the Māri and Madhave septs, which were time after time given as the sept name in reply to my enquiries. It may be noted that Belli occurs as an exogamous sept of the Canarese classes Vakkaliga, Toreya, and Kuruba, and Kastūri is recorded in my notes as a sept of the Vakkaligas and Telugu Kammas.

The Badagas dwell in extensive villages, generally situated on the summit of a low hillock, composed of rows of comfortable thatched or tiled houses, and surrounded by the fields, which yield the crops. The houses are not separate tenements, but a line of dwellings under one continuous roof, and divided by party walls. Sometimes there are two or three, or more lines, forming streets. Each house is partitioned off into an outer (edumane) and inner apartment (ozhaga or ōgamane). If the family has cows or buffaloes yielding milk, a portion of the latter is converted into a milk-house (hāgōttu), in which the milk is stored, and which no woman may enter. Even males who are under pollution, from having touched or passed near a Kota or Paraiyan, or other cause, may not enter it until they have had a ceremonial bath. To some houses a loft, made of bamboo posts, is added, to serve as a store-house. In every Badaga village there is a raised platform composed of a single boulder or several stones with an erect stone slab set up thereon, called sūththu [76]kallu. There is, further, a platform, made of bricks and mud, called mandhe kallu, whereon the Badagas, when not working, sit at ease. In their folk-tales men seated thereon are made to give information concerning the approach of strangers to the village. Strangers, who are not Badagas, are called Holeya. The Rev. G. Richter gives8 Badaga Holeya as a division of the lowly Holeyas, who came to Coorg from the Mysore country. In front of the houses, the operations of drying and threshing grain are carried out. The cattle are kept in stone kraals, or covered sheds close to the habitations, and the litter is kept till it is knee or waist deep, and then carried away as manure for the Badaga’s land, or planters’ estates.

“Nobody,” it has been said,9 “can beat the Badaga at making mother earth produce to her utmost capacity, unless it be a Chinese gardener. To-day we see a portion of the hill side covered with rocks and boulders. The Badagas become possessed of this scene of chaos, and turn out into the place in hundreds, reducing it, in a few weeks, to neat order. The unwieldy boulders, having been rolled aside, serve their purpose by being turned into a wall to keep out cattle, etc. The soil is pounded and worried until it becomes amenable to reason, and next we see a green crop running in waves over the surface. The Badagas are the most progressive of all the hill tribes, and always willing to test any new method of cultivation, or new crops brought to their notice by the Nilgiri Horticultural Society.”

Writing in 1832, Harkness states10 that “on leaving his house in the morning the Burgher pays his adoration [77]to the god of day, proceeds to the tu-el or yard, in which the cattle have been confined, and, again addressing the sun as the emblem of Siva, asks his blessing, and liberates the herd. He allows the cattle to stray about in the neighbourhood of the village, on a piece of ground which is always kept for this purpose, and, having performed his morning ablutions, commences the milking. This is also preceded by further salutations and praises to the sun. On entering the house in the evening, the Burgher addresses the lamp, now the only light, or visible emblem of the deity. ‘Thou, creator of this and of all worlds, the greatest of the great, who art with us, as well in the mountain as in the wilderness, who keepeth the wreaths that adorn the head from fading, who guardeth the foot from the thorn, God, among a hundred, may we be prosperous.’”

The Badaga understands the rotation of crops well. On his land he cultivates bearded wheat (beer ganji), barley, onions, garlic, potatoes, kīrē (Amarantus), sāmai (Panicum miliare), tenai (Setaria italica), etc.

“Among the Badagas,” Mr. Natesa Sastri writes, “the position of the women is somewhat different from what it is among most peoples. Every Badaga has a few acres to cultivate, but he does not mainly occupy himself with them, for his wife does all the out-door farm work, while he is engaged otherwise in earning something in hard cash. To a Badaga, therefore, his wife is his capital. Her labour in the field is considered to be worth one rupee per day, while an average male Badaga earns merely three annas. A Badaga woman, who has not her own acres to cultivate, finds work on some other lands. She thus works hard for her husband and family, and is quite content with the coarsest food—the korali (Setaria italica) flour—leaving the [78]better food to the male members of the family. This fact, and the hard work the Badaga women have to perform, may perhaps account to some extent for the slight build of the Badagas as a race. The male Badaga, too, works in the field, or at his own craft if he is not a cultivator, but his love for ready cash is always so great that, even if he had a harvest to gather the next morning, he would run away as a cooly for two annas wages.” Further, Mr. Grigg states that “as the men constantly leave their villages to work on coffee plantations, much of the labour in their own fields, as well as ordinary household work, is performed by the women. They are so industrious, and their services of such value to their husbands, that a Badaga sometimes pays 150 or 200 rupees as dowry for his wife.” In the off season for cultivation, I am informed, the Badaga woman collects faggots for home consumption, and stores them near her house, and the women prepare the fields for cultivation by weeding, breaking the earth, and collecting manure.

In his report on the revenue settlement of the Nilgiris (1885), Mr. (now Sir) R. S. Benson notes that “concurrently with the so-called abolition of the bhurty (or shifting) system of cultivation, Mr. Grant abolished the peculiar system in vogue up to that time in Kundahnad, which had been transferred from Malabar to the Nilgiris in 1860. This system was known as erkādu kothukādu. Under it, a tax of Re. 1 to Re. 1–8–0 was levied for the right to use a plough or er, and a tax of from 4 to 8 annas was levied for the right to use a hoe or kothu. The so-called patta issued to the ryot under this system was really no more than a license to use one or more hoes, as the case might be. It merely specified the amount payable for each instrument, but in no cases [79]was the extent or position of the lands to be cultivated specified. The ryot used his implements whenever and wherever he pleased. No restrictions, even on the felling of forests, were imposed, so that the hill-sides and valleys were cleared at will. The system was abolished in 1862. But, during the settlement, I found this erkādu kothukādu system still in force in the flourishing Badaga village of Kinnakorai, with some fifty houses.”

In connection with the local self-government of the Badagas, Mr. A. Rajah Bahadur Mudaliar writes to me as follows. “In former days, the monegar was a great personage, as he formed the unit of the administration. The appointment was more or less hereditary, and it generally fell to the lot of the richest and most well-to-do. All disputes within his jurisdiction were placed before him, and his decision was accepted as final. In simple matters, such as partition of property, disputes between husband and wife, etc., the monegars themselves disposed of them. But, when questions of a complicated nature presented themselves, they took as their colleagues other people of the villages, and the disputes were settled by the collective wisdom of the village elders. They assembled at a place set apart for the purpose beneath a nīm (Melia Azadirachta) or pīpal tree (Ficus religiosa) on a raised platform (ratchai), generally situated at the entrance to the village. The monegar was ex-officio president of such councils. He and the committee had power to fine the parties, to excommunicate them, and to readmit them to the caste. Parents resorted to the monegar for counsel in the disposal of their daughters in marriage, and in finding brides for their sons. If any one had the audacity to run counter to the wishes of the monegar in matters [80]matrimonial, he had the power to throw obstacles in the way of such marriages taking place. The monegar, in virtue of his position, wielded much power, and ruled the village as he pleased.” In the old days, it is said, when he visited any village within his jurisdiction, the monegar had the privilege of having the best women or maids of the place to share his cot according to his choice. In former times, the monegar used to wear a silver ring as the badge of office, and some Badagas still have in their possession such rings, which are preserved as heirlooms, and worshipped during festivals. The term monegar is, at the present day, used for the village revenue official and munsiff.

I gather that each exogamous sept has its headman, called Gouda, who is assisted by a Parpattikāran, and decides tribal matters, such as disputes, divorce, etc. Fines, when inflicted, go towards feasting the tribe, and doing pūja (worship) to the gods. In the case of a dispute between two parties, one challenges the other to take an oath in a temple before the village council. A declaration on oath settles the matter at issue, and the parties agree to abide by it. It is the duty of the Parpattikāran to make arrangements for such events as the Heththeswāmi, Devvē and Bairaganni festivals, and the buffalo sacrificing festival at Konakkore. The Parpattikāran takes part in the purification of excommunicated members of the tribe, when they are received back into it, for example, on release from prison. The tongue of the delinquent is burnt with a hot sandal stick, and a new waist thread put on. He is taken to the temple, where he stands amidst the assembled Badagas, who touch his head with a cane. He then prostrates himself at the feet of the Parpattikāran, who smears his forehead with sacred ashes. It is, further, the duty of [81]the Parpattikāran to be present on the occasion of the Kannikattu (pregnancy) ceremony.

A quarter of a century ago, a Badaga could be at once picked out from the other tribes of the Nīlgiris by his wearing a turban. But, in the present advanced age, not only does the Toda sometimes appear in the national head-dress, but even Irulas and Kurumbas, who only a short time ago were buried in the jungles, living like pigs and bears on roots, honey and other forest produce, turn up on Sundays in the Kotagiri bazar, clad in turban and coat of English cut. And, as the less civilised tribes don the turban, so the college student abandons this picturesque form of head-gear in favour of the less becoming and less washable porkpie cap, while the Badaga men and youths glory in a knitted night-cap of flaring red or orange hue. The body of the Badaga man is covered by a long body-cloth, sometimes with red and blue stripes, wrapped “so loosely that, as a man works in the fields, he is obliged to stop between every few strokes of his hoe, to gather up his cloth, and throw one end over his shoulder.” Male adornment is limited to gold ear-rings of a special pattern made by Kotas or goldsmiths, a silver waist-thread, silver bangle on the wrist, and silver, copper, or brass rings. The women wear a white body-cloth, a white under-cloth tied round the chest, tightly wrapped square across the breasts, and reaching to the knees, and a white cloth worn like a cap on the head. As types of female jewelry and tattooing, the following examples may be cited:—

1. Tattooed on forehead with dashes, circles and crescent; spot on chin; double row of dots on each upper arm over deltoid; and devices and double row of dots on right forearm. Gold ornament in left nostril. Necklets of glass beads and silver links with four-anna [82]piece pendent. Silver armlet above right elbow. Four copper armlets above left elbow. Four silver and seven composition bangles on left forearm. Two silver rings on right ring-finger; two steel rings on left ring-finger.

2. Tattooed on forehead; quadruple row of dots over right deltoid; star on right forearm.

3. Tattooed like the preceding on forehead and upper arm. Spot on chin; elaborate device on right forearm; rayed star or sun on back of hand.

4. Tattooed like the preceding on forehead and arm. Triple row of dots on back and front of left wrist, and double row of dots, with circle surrounded by dots, across chest.

Toreya women are only allowed to wear bangles on the wrist.

The tattoo marks on the foreheads of Udayar women consist of a crescent and dot, and they have a straight line tattooed at the outer corners of the eyes. Women of the other sub-divisions have on the forehead two circles with two vertical dashes between them, and a horizontal or crescentic dash below. The circles are made by pricking in the pigment over an impression made with a finger ring, or over a black mark made by means of such a ring. The operation is performed either by a Badaga or Korava woman. The former uses as needles the spines of Carissa spinarum, and a mixture of finely powdered charcoal or lamp-black mixed with rice gruel. The marks on the forehead are made when a girl is about eight or nine years old, and do not, as stated by Mr. Natesa Sastri, proclaim to the whole Badaga world that a girl is of marriageable age.

In colour the Badagas are lighter than the other hill tribes, and the comparative pallor of the skin is specially noticeable in the females, whom, with very few exceptions, [83]I was only able to study by surreptitious examination, when we met on the roads. In physique, the typical Badaga man is below middle height, smooth-skinned, of slender build, with narrow chest and shoulders.

Badaga men have cicatrices on the shoulder and forearm as the result of branding with a fire-stick when they are lads, with the object, it is said, of giving strength, and preventing pain when milking or churning. In like manner, the Todas have raised cicatrices (keloids) on the shoulder produced by branding with a fire-stick. They believe that the branding enables them to milk the buffaloes with perfect ease.

The Badagas have a very extensive repertoire of hora hesaru, or nicknames, of which the following are examples:—

  • One who eats in bed during the night.
  • Snorer.
  • Stupid.
  • Bald head.
  • Brown-eyed.
  • Thin and bony.
  • Big head.
  • Bandy-legged.
  • One who returned alive from the burning ground.
  • Ripe fruit.
  • Big-thighed.
  • Blind.
  • Lame.
  • Big calves.
  • Piles.
  • Liar.
  • Cat-eyed.
  • Fond of pot-herbs.
  • Rheumatic.
  • Bad-tempered.
  • Left-handed.
  • Buffalo grazer.
  • Saliva dribbling.
  • Honey-eater.
  • Black.
  • Spleen.
  • Teeth.
  • Potato-eater.
  • Glutton.
  • Belly.
  • Itch legged.
  • One who was slow in learning to walk.
  • Tall.
  • Thief-eyed.
  • Pustule-bodied.
  • Scarred.
  • Hairy.
  • Weak, like partially baked pots.
  • Strong, like portland cement.


Among the Badagas, Konga is used as a term of abuse. Those who made mistakes in matching Holmgren’s wools, with which I tested them, were, always called Konga by the onlookers.

When two Badagas meet each other, the elder touches the head of the younger with his right hand. This form of salutation is known as giving the head. A person of the Badaga section gives the head, as it is called, to an Udaiyar, in token of the superiority of the latter. When people belong to the same sept, they say “Ba, anna, appa, thamma, amma, akka” (come, father, brother, mother, sister, etc.). But, if they are of different septs, they will say “Ba, māma, māmi, bava” (come, uncle, aunt, brother-in-law, etc.). “Whenever,” Dr. Rivers writes,11 “a Toda meets a Badaga monegar (headman), or an old Badaga with whom he is acquainted, a salutation passes between the two. The Toda stands before the Badaga, inclines his head slightly, and says ‘Madtin pudia.’ (Madtin, you have come). The Badaga replies ‘Buthuk! buthuk!’ (blessing, blessing), and rests his hand on the top of the Toda’s head. This greeting only takes place between Todas and the more important of the Badaga community. It would seem that every Badaga headman may be greeted in this way, but a Toda will only greet other Badaga elders, if he is already acquainted with them. The salutation is made to members of all the various castes of the Badagas, except the Toreyas. It has been held to imply that the Todas regard the Badagas as their superiors, but it is doubtful how far this is the case. The Todas themselves say they follow the custom because the Badagas help to support them. It seems to be a mark of respect paid [85]by the Todas to the elders of a tribe with which they have very close relations, and it is perhaps significant that no similar sign of respect is shown to Toda elders by the Badagas.”

Every Badaga family has its Muttu Kota, from whom it gets the agricultural implements, pots, hoes, etc. In return, the Kotas receive an annual present of food-grains, mustard and potatoes. For a Kota funeral, the Badagas have to give five rupees or a quantity of rice, and a buffalo. The pots obtained from the Kotas are not used immediately, but kept for three days in the jungle, or in a bush in some open spot. They are then taken to the outer apartment of the house, and kept there for three days, when they are smeared with the bark of Meliosma pungens (the tūd tree of the Todas) and culms of Andropogon Schœnanthus (bzambe hullu). Thus purified, the pots are used for boiling water in for three days, and may then be used for any purpose. The Badagas are said to give a present of grain annually to the Todas. Every Toda mand (or mad) seems to have its own group of Badaga families, who pay them this gudu, as it is called. “There are,” Dr. Rivers writes, “several regulations concerning the food of the palol (dairy man of a Toda sacred dairy). Any grain he eats must be that provided by the Badagas. At the present time more rice is eaten than was formerly the case. This is not grown by the Badagas, but nevertheless the rice for the palol must be obtained through them. The palol wears garments of a dark grey material made in the Coimbatore district. They are brought to the palol by the Badaga called tikelfmav. The earthenware vessels of the inner room (of the ti dairy) are not obtained from the Kotas, like the ordinary vessels, but are made by Hindus, and are procured through the Badagas.” [86]

The Badagas live in dread of the Kurumbas, and the Kurumba constantly comes under reference in their folk-stories. The Kurumba is the necromancer of the hills, and believed to be possessed of the power of outraging women, removing their livers, and so causing their death, while the wound heals by magic, so that no trace of the operation is left. He is supposed, too, to have the power of opening the bolts of doors by magic and effecting an entrance into a house at night for some nefarious purpose. The Toda or Badaga requires the services of the Kurumba, when he fancies that any member of his family is possessed of the devil, or when he wants to remove the evil eye, to which he imagines that his children have been subjected. The Kurumba does his best to remove the malady by repeating various mantrams (magical formulæ). If he fails, and if any suspicion is aroused in the mind of the Toda or Badaga that he is allowing the devil to play his pranks instead of loosing his hold on the supposed victim, woe betide him. The wrath of the entire village, or even the whole tribe, is raised against the unhappy Kurumba. His hut is surrounded at night, and the entire household massacred in cold blood, and their huts set on fire. This is very cleverly carried out, and the isolated position of the Kurumba settlements allows of very little clue for identification. In 1835 no less than fifty-eight Kurumbas were thus murdered, and a smaller number in 1875 and 1882. In 1891 the live inmates of a single hut were murdered, and their hut burnt to ashes, because, it was said, one of them who had been treating a sick Badaga child failed to cure it. The crime was traced to some Kotas in conjunction with Badagas, but the District Judge disbelieved the evidence, and all who were charged were acquitted. Every Badaga family pays an annual [87]tax of four annas to the Kurumbas, and, if a Kurumba comes to a Badaga hatti (village), a subscription is raised as an inducement to him to take his departure. The Kurumba receives a fee for every Badaga funeral, and for the pregnancy ceremony (kannikattu).

It is noted by Dr. Rivers that “the Toda sorcerers are not only feared by their fellow Todas, but also by the Badagas, and it is probably largely owing to fear of Toda sorcery that the Badagas continue to pay their tribute of grain. The Badagas may also consult the Toda diviners, and it is probable that the belief of the Badagas in the magical powers of the Todas is turned to good account by the latter. In some cases, Todas, have been killed by Badagas owing to this belief.”

Among the Todas, the duties of milking the buffaloes and dairy-work are entrusted to special individuals, whereas any Badaga male may, after initiation, milk the cows and buffaloes, provided that he is free from pollution. Every Badaga boy, when he is about seven or nine years old, is made to milk a cow on an auspicious day, or on new year’s day. The ceremony is thus described by Mr. Natesa Sastri. “Early in the morning of the day appointed for this ceremony, the boy is bathed, and appears in his holiday dress. A she-buffalo, with her calf, stands before his house, waiting to be milked. The parents, or other elder relations of the boy, and those who have been invited to be present on the occasion, or whose duty it is to be present, then conduct the boy to the spot. The father, or some one of the agnatic kindred, gives into the hands of the boy a bamboo vessel called honē, which is already very nearly full of fresh-drawn milk. The boy receives the vessel with both his hands, and is conducted to the buffalo. The elder relations show him the process, and the boy, [88]sitting down, milks a small quantity into the honē. This is his first initiation into the duty of milking, and it is that he may not commit mistakes on the very first day of his milking that the honē is previously filled almost to the brim. The boy takes the vessel filled with milk into his house, and pours some of the sacred fluid into all his household eating vessels—a sign that from that day he has taken up on himself the responsibility of supplying the family with milk. He also throws some milk in the faces of his parents and relatives. They receive it very kindly, and bless him, and request him to continue thus to milk the buffaloes, and bring plenty and prosperity to the house. After this, the boy enters the milk-house (hāgōttu), and places milk in his honē there. From this moment, and all through his life, he may enter into that room, and this is therefore considered a very important ceremony.”

A cow or buffalo, which has calved for the first time, has to be treated in a special manner. For three or five days it is not milked. A boy is then selected to milk it. He must not sleep on a mat, or wear a turban, and, instead of tying his cloth round his waist, must wear it loosely over his body. Meat is forbidden, and he must avoid, and not speak to polluting classes, such as Irulas and Kotas, and menstruating women. On the day appointed for milking the animal, the boy bathes, and proceeds to milk it into a new honē purified by smearing a paste of Meliosma (tūd) leaves and bark over it, and heating it over a fire. The milk is taken to a stream, where three cups are made of Argyreia (mīnige) leaves, into which a small quantity of the milk is placed. The cups are then put in the water. The remainder of the milk in the honē is also poured into the stream. In some places, especially where a Mādeswara temple is [89]close at hand, the milk is taken to the temple, and given to the pūjāri. With a portion of the milk some plantain fruits are made into a pulp, and given to an Udaya, who throws them into a stream. The boy is treated with some respect by his family during the period when he milks the animal, and is given food first. This he must eat off a plate made of Argyreia, or plantain leaves.

Besides the hāgōttu within the house, the Badagas have, at certain places, separate dairy-houses near a temple dedicated to Heththeswāmi, of which the one at Bairaganni (or Bērganni) appears to be the most important. The dairy pūjāri is here, like the Toda palol, a celibate. In 1905, he was a young lad, whom my Brāhman assistant set forth to photograph. He was, however, met at a distance from the village by a headman, who assured him that he could not take the photograph without the sanction of fifteen villages. The pūjāri is not allowed to wander freely about the village, or talk to grown-up women. He cooks his own food within the temple grounds, and wears his cloth thrown loosely over his body. Once a year, on the occasion of a festival, he is presented with new cloths and turban, which alone he may wear. He must be a strict vegetarian. A desire to marry and abandon the priesthood is believed to be conveyed in dreams, or through one inspired. Before leaving the temple service, he must train his successor in the duties, and retires with the gains acquired by the sale of the products of the herd and temple offerings. The village of Bairaganni is regarded as sacred, and possesses no holagudi (menstrual hut).

Bishop Whitehead adds that “buffaloes are given as offerings to the temple at Bairaganni, and become the property of the pūjāri, who milks them, and uses the [90]milk for his food. All the villagers give him rice every day. He may only eat once a day, at about 3 P.M. He cooks the meal himself, and empties the rice from the cooking-pot by turning it over once. If the rice does not come out the first time, he cannot take it at all. When he wants to get married, another boy is appointed in his place. The buffaloes are handed over to his successor.” The following legend in connection with Bairaganni is also recorded by Bishop Whitehead. “There is a village in the Mēkanād division of the Nīlgiris called Nundāla. A man had a daughter. He wanted to marry her to a man in the Paranganād division about a hundred years ago. She did not wish to marry him. The father insisted, but she refused again and again. At last she wished to die, and came near a tank, on the bank of which was a tree. She sat under the tree and washed, and then threw herself into the tank. One of the men of Bairaganni in the Paranganād division saw the woman in a dream. She told him that she was not a human being but a goddess, an incarnation of Parvati. The people of Nundāla built a strong bund (embankment) round the tank, and allow no woman to go on it. Only the pūjāri, and Badagas who have prepared themselves by fasting and ablution, are allowed to go on the bund to offer pūja, which is done by breaking cocoanuts, and offering rice, flowers, and fruits. The woman told the man in his dream to build a temple at Bairaganni, which is now the chief temple of Heththeswāmi.”

Concerning the initiation of a Lingāyat Badaga into his religion, which takes place at about his thirteenth birthday, Mr. Natesa Sastri writes as follows. “The priest conducts this ceremony, and the elder relations of the family have only to arrange for the performance [91]of it. The priests belong to the Udaya sect. They live in their own villages, and are specially sent for, and come to the boy’s village for the occasion. The ceremony is generally done to several boys of about the same age on the same day. On the day appointed, all the people in the Badaga village, where this ceremony is to take place, observe a strict fast. The cows and buffaloes are all milked very early in the morning, and not a drop of the milk thus collected is given out, or taken by even the tenderest children of the village, who may require it very badly. The Udaya priest arrives near the village between 10 A.M. and noon on the day appointed. He never goes into the village, but stops near some rivulet adjacent to it. The relations of the boy approach him with a new basket, containing five measures of uncooked rice, pulse, ghī, etc., and a quarter of a rupee—one fanam, as it is generally designated. The priest sits near the water-course, and lights a fire on the bank. Perfumes are thrown profusely into it, and this is almost the only ceremony before the fire. The boys, whose turn it is to receive the linga that day, are all directed to bathe in the river. A plantain leaf, cut into one foot square, is placed in front of the fire towards the east of it. The lingas, kept in readiness by the parents of the boys, are now received by the priest, and placed on the leaves. The boys are asked to wash them—each one the linga meant for his wearing—in water and milk. Then comes the time for the expenditure of all the collected milk of the morning. Profusely the white fluid is poured, till the whole rivulet is nothing but a stream of milk. After the lingas are thus washed, the boys give them to the priest, who places them in his left palm, and, covering them with his right, utters, with all the solemnity due to the occasion, the following [92]incantation, while the boys and the whole village assembled there listen to it with the most profound respect and veneration ‘Oh! Siva, Hara, Basava, the Lord of all the six thousand and three thousand names and glories, the Lord of one lakh and ninety-six thousand ganas (body-guards of Siva), the donor of water, the daily-to-be worshipped, the husband of Parvati. Oh! Lord, O! Siva Linga, thy feet alone are our resort. Oh! Siva, Siva, Siva, Siva.’ While pronouncing this prayer, the priest now and then removes his right palm, and pours water and milk round the sacred fire, and over the lingas resting in his left palm. He then places each of the lingas in a cloth of one cubit square, rolls it up, and requests the boys to hold out their right palms. The young Badaga receives it, repeats the prayer given about five times, and, during each repetition, the palm holding the linga tied up in the cloth is carried nearer and nearer to his neck. When that is reached (on the fifth utterance of the incantation), the priest ties the ends of the rolled up cloth containing the Siva emblem loosely round the boy’s neck, while the latter is all the while kneeling down, holding with both his hands the feet of the priest. After the linga has been tied, the priest blesses him thus: ‘May one become one thousand to you. May you ever preserve in you the Siva Linga. If you do so, you will have plenty of milk and food, and you will prosper for one thousand years in name and fame, kine and coin.’ If more than one have to receive the linga on the same day, each of them has to undergo this ceremony. After the ceremony is over, the priest returns to his village with the rice, etc., and fees. Every house, in which a boy has received the linga, has to give a grand feast on that day. Even the poorest Badaga must feed at least five other Badagas.” [93]

The foregoing account of the investiture with the lingam apparently applies to the Mēkanād Udayas. The following note is based on information supplied by the Udayas of Paranginād. The ceremony of investiture is performed either on new year’s day or Sivarāthri by an Udaya priest in the house of a respected member of the community (doddamane), which is vacated for the occasion. The houses of the boys and girls who are to receive lingams are cleaned, and festoons of tūd and mango leaves, lime fruits, and flowers of Leucas aspera (thumbē) are tied across the doorways, and in front of the house where the ceremony is to be performed. Until the conclusion thereof, all the people of the village fast. The candidates, with their parents, and the officiating priest repair to the doddamane. The lingams are handed over to the priest, who, taking them up one by one, does pūja to them, and gives them to the children. They in turn do pūja, and the lingams, wrapped in pink silk or cotton cloths, are tied round their necks. The pūja consists of washing the lingams in cow’s urine and milk, smearing them with sandal and turmeric paste, throwing flowers on them, and waving incense and burning camphor before them. After the investiture, the novices are taught a prayer, which is not a stereotyped formula, but varies with the priest and village.

Like other Lingayats, the Udayas respect the Jangam, but do not employ the Jangama thirtham (water used for washing the Jangam’s feet) for bathing their lingams. In Udaya villages there is no special menstrual hut (holagudi). Milk is not regarded by them as a sacred product, so there is no hāgōttu in their houses. Nor do they observe the Manavalai festival in honour of ancestors. Other ceremonies are celebrated by them, as [94]by other Badagas, but they do not employ the services of a Kurumba.

Important agricultural ceremonies are performed by the Badagas at the time of sowing and harvest. The seed-sowing ceremony takes place in March, and, in some places, e.g., the Mēkanād and Paranginād, a Kurumba plays an important part in it. On an auspicious day—a Tuesday before the crescent moon—a pūjāri of the Devvē temple sets out several hours before dawn with five or seven kinds of grain in a basket and sickle, accompanied by a Kurumba, and leading a pair of bullocks with a plough. On reaching the field selected, the pūjāri pours the grain into the cloth of the Kurumba, and, yoking the animals to the plough, makes three furrows in the soil. The Kurumba, stopping the bullocks, kneels on the ground between the furrows facing east. Removing his turban, he places it on the ground, and, closing his ears with his palms, bawls out “Dho, Dho,” thrice. He then rises, and scatters the grain thrice on the soil. The pūjāri and Kurumba then return to the village, and the former deposits what remains of the grain in the store-room (attu). A new pot, full of water, is placed in the milk-house, and the pūjāri dips his right hand therein, saying “Nerathubitta” (it is full). This ceremony is an important one for the Badagas, as, until it has been performed, sowing may not commence. It is a day of feasting, and, in addition to rice, Dolichos Lablab is cooked.

The other agricultural ceremony is called Devvē habba or tenai (Setaria italica), and is usually celebrated in June or July, always on a Monday. It is apparently performed in honour of the two gods Mahālingaswāmi and Hiriya Udaya, to whom a group of villages will have temples dedicated. For example, the Badagas in [95]the neighbourhood of Kotagiri have their Hiriya Udaya temple at Tāndanād, and Mahālingaswāmi temple at Kannērmukku. This Devvē festival, which should on no account be pronounced duvve, which means burning-ground, is celebrated at one place, whither the Badagas from other villages proceed, to take part in it. About midday, some Badagas and the temple pūjāri go from the temple of Hiriya Udaya to that of Mahālingaswāmi. The procession is usually headed by a Kurumba, who scatters fragments of tūd bark and wood as he goes on his way. The pūjāri takes with him the materials necessary for doing pūja, and, after worshipping Mahālingaswāmi, the party return to the Hiriya Udaya temple, where milk and cooked rice are offered to the various gods within the temple precincts. On the following day, all assemble at the temple, and a Kurumba brings a few sheaves of Setaria italica, and ties them to a stone set up at the main entrance. After this, pūja is done, and the people offer cocoanuts to the god. Later on, all the women of the Madhave sept, who have given birth to a first-born child, come, dressed up in holiday attire, with their babies, to the temple. On this day they wear a special nose ornament, called elemukkuththi, which is only worn on one other occasion, at the funeral of a husband. The women do pūja to Hiriya Udaya, and the pūjāri gives them a small quantity of rice on mīnige (Argyreia) leaves. After eating this, they leave the temple in a line, and wash their hands with water given to them by the pūjāri. This ceremonial, performed by women of the Madhave sept, is called Mandēdhanda. As soon as the Devvē festival is concluded, the reaping of the crop commences, and a measure or two of grain from the crop gathered on the first day, called nīsal, is set apart for the Mahālingaswāmi temple. [96]

The most important gods of the Badagas are Heththeswāmi, Mahālingaswāmi, Hiriya Udaya, Mādeswara, Mānkāli, Jadeswāmi, and Nīlgiri Rangaswāmi. And at the present day, some Badagas proceed to the plains, to worship at the Saivite temple at Karamadai in Coimbatore, or at Nanjangōd in Mysore.

The festival in honour of Heththeswāmi is celebrated in the month of January at Baireganni. It is sometimes called ermathohabba, as, with it, ploughing operations cease. It always commences on a Monday, and usually lasts eight days. A Sēdan or Dēvānga weaver comes with his portable hand-loom, and sufficient thread for weaving a dhubati (coarse cloth) and turban. At Baireganni there is a special house, in which these articles are woven. But, at other places where the festival is observed, the Badagas go to the weaver’s village to fetch the required cloths. Early on the second morning of the festival, some of the more respected Badagas and the weaver proceed to the weaving house after bathing. The weaver sets up his loom, and worships it by offering incense, and other things. The Badagas give him a new cloth, and a small sum of money, and ask him to weave a dhubati and two kachches (narrow strips of cloth). Daily, throughout the festival, the Badagas collect near the temple, and indulge in music and songs. Until the last day, they are not permitted to set eyes on the god Heththeswāmi. On the morning of the last day, the pūjāri, accompanied by all the Badagas, takes the newly woven cloths to a stream, in which they are washed. When they are dry, all proceed to the temple, where the idol is dressed up in them, and all, on this occasion only, are allowed to look at it. Devotees pay a small offering of money, which is placed on a tray near the idol. The crowd begins to disperse in [97]the afternoon, and, on their way back to their villages, the wants of the travellers are attended to by people posted at intervals with coffee, fruit, and other articles of food. If the Badagas have to go to a weaver’s village for the cloths, the weaver is, when the order is given for them, presented with four annas, after he has bathed. When handing the money to him, the Badagas bawl out “This is the fee for making the cloths to be worn by Heththe Iramāsthi and Parasakti Parvati.” On the last day of the festival, the cloths are washed, and one of them is made to represent an idol, which is decorated with waist and neck ornaments, and an umbrella. All prostrate themselves before it, and make offerings of money. Fruits and other things are then offered to Heththeswāmi and some recite the following prayer. “May all good acts be remembered, and all bad ones be forgotten. Though there may be a thousand and one sins, may I reach the feet of God.”

The following further information in connection with the Baireganni festival is given by Bishop Whitehead. “The people from other villages offer money, rice, fruits, umbrellas of gold or silver for the goddess, cloths, and buffaloes. The buffaloes are never killed, but remain as the property of the temple. The pūjāri calls the representatives of one village, and tells them what Hetheswāmi says to him, e.g., ‘This year you will have good [or bad] crops; cholera or small-pox, good [or bad] rain, etc.’ As the people present their offerings, they prostrate themselves, kneeling down and touching the ground with their foreheads, and the pūjāri gives them some flowers, which they wear in their hair. The people and the pūjāri play on the kombu [horn], and ring bells while the offerings are being made. After the offerings have finished, all the men dance, in two companies, in [98]front of the temple, one shouting ‘How-ko, How-ko,’ and the other ‘Is-hōli.’ The dance was taught them by the Todas, and the words are Toda.”

In connection with the Jadeswāmi festival the ceremony of walking through fire [burning embers] is carried out at Mēlūr, Tangālu, Mainelē, Jakkanāre, Tenād, and Nidugala. At Mēlūr and Tangālu, the temples belong to the Hāruvas, who carry out all the details of ceremony. The temple at Tenād is owned by the Udayas, by whom the ceremonial is performed. In other places, the celebrants are Badagas. The festival is observed, on an elaborate scale, at Nidugala during the month of January. All those who are going to walk over the burning embers fast for eight days, and go through the rite on the ninth day. For its performance, Monday is considered an auspicious day. The omens are taken by boiling two pots of milk side by side on two hearths. If the milk overflows uniformly on all sides, the crops will be abundant for all the villages. But, if it flows over on one side only, there will be plentiful crops for villages on that side only. The space over which the embers are spread is said to be about five yards long, and three yards broad. But, in some places, e.g., Jakkanāre and Mēlūr, it is circular as at the Muhammadan fire-walking ceremony. For making the embers, the wood of Eugenia Jambolana and Phyllanthus Emblica are used. For boiling the milk, and setting fire to the wood, a light obtained by friction must be used. The process is known as niligolu, or upright stick. The vertical stick is made of a twig of Rhodomyrtus tomentosus, which is rotated in a socket in a long thick piece of a bough of Debregeasia velutina, in which a row of sockets has been made. The rotation is produced by a cord passed several times round the vertical stick, of [99]which each end is pulled alternately. The horizontal block is pressed firmly on the ground by the toes of a man, who presses a half cocoanut shell down on the top of the vertical stick, so as to force it down into the socket. A Badaga, who failed in an attempt to demonstrate the making of fire by this method, gave as an excuse that he was under worldly pollution, from which he would be free at the time of the fire-walking ceremony. Though the Badagas make fire by friction, reference is made in their folk legends, not to this mode of obtaining fire, but to chakkamukki (flint and steel), which is repeatedly referred to in connection with cremation. After the milk boiling ceremonial, the pūjāri, tying bells on his legs, approaches the fire pit, carrying milk freshly drawn from a cow, which has calved for the first time, and flowers of Rhododendron arboreum, Leucas aspera, or jasmine. After doing pūja, he throws the flowers on the embers, and they should remain unscorched for a few seconds. He then pours some of the milk over the embers, and no hissing sound should be produced. The omens being propitious, he walks over the glowing embers, followed by an Udaya, and the crowd of celebrants, who, before going through the ordeal, count the hairs on their feet. If any are singed, it is a sign of approaching ill fortune, or even death. In an account of the fire-walking ceremony, in 1902, it is noted that “the Badagas strongly repudiate the insinuation of preparing their feet to face the fire ordeal. It is done to propitiate Jeddayswāmi, to whom vows are invoked, in token of which they grow one twist or plait of hair, which is treasured for years, and finally cut off as an offering to Jeddayswāmi. Numbers of Chettis were catering to the crowd, offering their wares, bangles, gay-coloured handkerchiefs, as well as edibles. The Kotas supplied the music, and an [100]ancient patriarch worked himself up to a high pitch of inspiration, and predicted all sorts of good things for the Badagas with regard to the ensuing season and crops.”

The following legend, relating to the fire-walking ceremony, is recorded by Bishop Whitehead. “When they first began to perform the ceremony fifty or sixty years ago, they were afraid to walk over the fire. Then the stone image of Mahālinga Swāmi turned into a snake, and made a hole through the temple wall. It came out, and crawled over the fire, and then went back to the temple. Then their fear vanished, and they walked over the embers. The hole is still to be seen in the temple.”

Of the fire-walking ceremony at Mēlūr, the following account is given in the Gazetteer of the Nīlgiris. “It takes place on the Monday after the March new moon, just before the cultivation season begins, and is attended by Badagas from all over Mērkunād. The inhabitants of certain villages (six in number), who are supposed to be the descendants of an early Badaga named Guruvajja, have first, however, to signify through their Gottukārs, or headmen, that the festival may take place; and the Gottukārs choose three, five, or seven men to walk through the fire. On the day appointed, the fire is lit by certain Badaga priests and a Kurumba. The men chosen by the Gottukārs then bathe, adorn themselves with sandal, do obeisance to the Udayas of Udayarhatti near Kēti, who are specially invited and feasted; pour into the adjacent stream milk from cows which have calved for the first time during the year; and, in the afternoon, throw more milk and some flowers from the Mahālingasvāmi temple into the fire pit, and then walk across it. Earth is next thrown on the embers, and they walk across [101]twice more. A general feast closes the ceremony, and next day the first ploughings are done, the Kurumba sowing the first seeds, and the priests the next lot. Finally, a net is brought. The priest of the temple, standing over it, puts up prayers for a favourable agricultural season; two fowls are thrown into it, and a pretence is made of spearing them; and then it is taken and put across some game path, and some wild animal (a sāmbhar deer if possible) is driven into it, slain, and divided among the villagers. This same custom of annually killing a sāmbhar is also observed at other villages on the plateau, and in 1883 and 1894 special orders were passed to permit of its being done during the close season. Latterly, disputes about precedence in the matter of walking through the fire at Mēlūr have been carried as far as the civil courts, and the two factions celebrate the festival separately in alternate years. A fire-walking ceremony also takes place annually at the Jadayasvāmi temple in Jakkanēri under the auspices of a Sivāchāri Badaga. It seems to have originally had some connection with agricultural prospects, as a young bull is made to go partly across the fire-pit before the other devotees, and the owners of young cows which have had their first calves during the year take precedence of others in the ceremony, and bring offerings of milk, which are sprinkled over the burning embers.”

At the Sakalathi festival, in the month of October, Badagas, towards evening, throw on the roofs of their houses flowers of Plectranthus Wightii, Crotalaria obtecta, Lobelia nicotianœfolia, Achyranthes aspera, and Leucas aspera. On the following day, they clean their houses, and have a feast. In the afternoon, numbers of them may be seen in the streets drawing in front of their houses pictures in wood-ashes of buffaloes, bulls, cows, [102]ploughs, stars, sun and moon, snakes, lizards, etc. They then go into their houses, and wash their hands. Taking up in his clean hands a big cake, on which are placed a little rice and butter, the Badaga puts on it three wicks steeped in castor oil, and lights them. The cake is then waved round the heads of all the children of the house taken to a field, and thrown therein with the words “Sakalathi has come.” The cake-thrower returns home, and prostrates himself before a lamp placed in the inner room, and repeats a long formula, composed of the various synonyms of Siva.

In the month of November, a festival called Dodda Habba (big feast) is celebrated. In the afternoon, rice is cooked in whey within the hāgōttu, and eaten on mīnige leaves. Throughout the day the villagers play at various ball games.

A festival, which is purely local, is celebrated near Konakore in honour of Mahangkāli. A buffalo is led to the side of a precipice, killed by a Kurumba with a spear, and thrown over the edge thereof. There is a legend that, in olden days, a pūjāri used to put a stick in the crevice of a rock, and, on removing it, get the value of a buffalo in fanams (gold coins). But, on one occasion, he put the stick in a second time, in the hopes of gaining more money. No money, however, was forthcoming and, as a punishment for his greed, he died on the spot.

All Badaga villages, except those of the Udayas, have a hut, called holagudi, for the exclusive use of women during their monthly periods. A few months before a girl is expected to reach puberty, she is sent to the holagudi, on a Friday, four or five days before the new moon day. This is done lest, in the ordinary course of events, the first menstruation should commence on an inauspicious day. The girl remains in the holagudi one [103]night, and returns home on the following day clad in new cloths, leaving the old ones in the hut. When she arrives at her house, she salutes all the people who are there, and receives their blessing. On Sunday she goes to the houses of her relations, where she is given kadalai (Cicer arietinum) and other food. She may not enter the inner apartment of her house until she has seen the crescent moon. Badaga women observe five days menstrual pollution. If a woman discovers her condition before washing her face in the early morning, that day is included in the pollution period. Otherwise, the period must be prolonged over six days. On the third day she bathes in cold water, using the bark of Pouzolzia (thorēkōlu), and on the fourth day is allowed a change of clothing after a bath. On this day she leaves the hut, and passes a portion of the night in the verandah of her house. After cooking and eating her evening meal, she bathes, and enters the outer room. Early on the following morning, the spot which she has occupied is cleaned, and she bathes in a stream. Returning home, she eats her food in the outer room, where she remains till next morning. Even children may not be touched by a menstruating woman. If, by chance, this happens, the child must be washed to remove the pollution, before it can be handled by others. This restriction is apparently not observed by any other tribe or caste.

Writing concerning marriage among the Badagas, Harkness states12 that “it is said to be common for one who is in want of labourers to promise his daughter in marriage to the son or other relative of a neighbour not in circumstances so flourishing as himself. And, these engagements being entered into, the intended bridegroom [104]serves the father of his betrothed as one of his own family till the girl comes of age, when the marriage is consummated, and he becomes a partner in the general property of the family of his father-in-law.”

A man may marry a girl belonging to the same village as himself, if he and she are not members of the same exogamous sept. In most cases, however, all the inhabitants of a village are of the same sept, and a man has to take as his wife a girl from a village other than his own.

Among all sections of the Badagas, adult marriage is the general rule, though infant marriage is also practised. Marriage is preceded by a simple form of courtship, but the consent of the parents to the union is necessary. A girl does not suffer in reputation if she is rejected by a number of suitors, before she finally settles down. Except among the Udayas, the marriage ceremony is of a very simple nature. A day or two before that fixed for taking the girl to the house of her husband-elect, the latter proceeds to her village, accompanied by his brothers, who, as a token of respect, touch the feet of all the Badagas who are assembled. The bride is taken to the house of the bridegroom, accompanied by the Kota band. Arrived there, she stands at the entrance, and her mother-in-law or sister-in-law brings water in a vessel, and pours it into her hands thrice. Each time she lets the water fall over her feet. The mother-in-law then ties round her neck a string of beads (māle mani), and leads her to the outer room (edumane), where cooked sāmai (Panicum miliare) and milk is given to her. This she pretends to eat, and the bridegroom’s sister gives her water to wash her hands with. The bride and two married women or virgins (preferably the bridegroom’s sisters) go to a stream in procession, accompanied by the [105]Kota musicians, and bring therefrom water for cooking purposes in decorated new pots. The bride then salutes all her new relations, and they in turn give her their blessing. The ceremonial concludes with a feast, at the conclusion of which, in some cases, the bride and bridegroom sit on the raised verandah (pial), and receive presents.

“Though,” a correspondent writes, “the Badaga is simple, and his wants are few, he cannot resist the temptation of wine and women. The Badaga woman can change husbands as often as she pleases by a simple system of divorce, and can also carry on with impunity intimacy within the pale of her own community. It is not uncommon to find Badaga women changing husbands, so long as youth and vigour tempt them to do so, and confining themselves eventually to the last individual, after age and infirmity have made their mark, and render such frolics inexpedient.” A former Magistrate of the Nīlgiris informs me that he tried more than one case, in which a married man filed a complaint against another man for kidnapping or enticing away his wife for immoral purposes. The father of the woman was always charged as an abetter, and pleaded that, as no pariyam (bride price) had been paid by the husband, though he and the woman lived together as man and wife, no criminal offence could be proved against either the father or the abductor. Polygamy is permitted, and the plurality of wives is a gain to the husband, as each wife becomes a bread-winner, and supports her children, and the man makes each wife superintend one department of the day’s work. Remarriage of widows is very common, and a widow may marry the brother of her deceased husband. It is said to be etiquette among the Badagas that, when a woman’s husband is away, she [106]should be accessible to her brothers-in-law. Instances occur, in which the husband is much younger than his wife, who, until he has reached maturity, cohabits with her paternal aunt’s son, or some one whom she may have a fancy for. The marriage ceremony of the Udayas is carried out on an elaborate scale, and is based on the type of ceremonial which is carried out by some castes in the plains. Before dawn on the marriage day, the brothers and cousins of the bridegroom go, accompanied by some Udayas and the Kota band, to the forest, whence they bring two sticks of Mimusops hexandra, to do duty as the milk-posts. The early hour is selected, to avoid the chance of coming across inauspicious objects. The sticks should be cut off the tree at a single stroke of the bill-hook, and they may not be laid flat on the ground, but placed on a blanket spread thereon. The Udayas, who joined in the procession, collect twelve posts of Mimusops as supports for the marriage booth (pandal). In front of the house, which is to be the scene of the wedding, two pits are dug, into which cow-dung water is poured. The pūjāri does pūja to the milk-posts by offering sugar-cane, jaggery (crude sugar), etc., and ties two threads thereto. The posts are then placed in the pits by five people—the parents of the bridal couple and the priest. The booth, and dais or enclosure, are then erected close to the milk-posts. On the second day, the bridegroom’s party, attended by Kota musicians, dressed up in dancing costume, go to the house of the bride, where a feast is held. The bride then salutes a lamp, and prostrates herself at the feet of her parents, who bless her, saying “May your body and hands soon be filled (i.e., may you have a child), and may your life be prosperous.” The bride is taken in procession to the house of the bridegroom, [107]accompanied by some Udayas, and a Toreya carrying a bag of rice. At the entrance to the house she is blindfolded, and her mother-in-law pours water over her feet, and waves coloured water (ārathi) in front of her. She then enters the house, right foot foremost, and sits on a mat. Three married women, nearly related to the bridegroom, proceed, with the Kota musicians, to a stream, carrying three pots decorated with leaves of Leucas aspera. The priest does pūja, and the pots are filled with water, and brought back in procession to the marriage dais. The water is poured into three vessels placed thereon three times by each of the three women. Within the marriage enclosure, two raised platforms are set up by a Toreya. The bridegroom, after going round the enclosure three times with his brothers and sisters, enters it, and bathes with the water contained in the vessels. He then dresses himself in new clothes, and is carried to the outer room by his maternal uncle. The bride is then treated in like manner, but is taken to the inner room. At a fixed auspicious hour, the bridal couple repair to the enclosure, where the bridegroom stands on a mat. A screen is held up by four or five men between him and the bride, who stands facing him, while the priest ties the ends of their clothes together. They then link their little fingers together, the screen is removed, and they seat themselves on the mat. The bridegroom’s sister brings a tray with a mass of rice scooped out into a cavity to hold ghī for feeding a lighted wick (annadha ārathi) on it, and, placing it before the bridal pair, sits down. The tāli, consisting of a golden disc, is worshipped by the priest, and given to the bridegroom, who ties it on to the bride’s neck. In some places it is tied by four or five elders, belonging to different villages, who are not widowers. The contracting [108]couple then put on wreaths called sammandha mālai, or wreaths establishing relationship, and the wrist threads are tied on. The bride’s sister brings some rice and milk in a cup, into which the linked fingers of the bride and bridegroom are thrust. Taking up some of the rice, they put it into each other’s mouths three times. After they have washed their hands, the maternal uncle or priest asks them if they have seen Aranjoti (the pole-star), and they reply in the affirmative. On the third day, presents are given to the newly-married couple, and the wrist threads are removed. Going to a stream, they perform a mimic ceremony of sowing, and scatter cotton and rice seed in two small pans made by a Toreya with cow-dung. Widow remarriage is permitted among the Udayas, and a widow may marry a cousin, but not her dead husband’s brother. At the marriage ceremony, a priest makes a mark with sacred ashes on the foreheads of the contracting couple, and announces the fact of their union.

It is noted by Dr. Rivers that “Breeks has stated that the Toda custom is that the house shall pass to the youngest son. It seems quite clear that this is wrong, and that this custom is absolutely unknown among the Todas. It is, however, a Badaga custom, and among them I was told that it is due to the fact that, as the sons of a family grow up and marry, they leave the house of the parents and build houses elsewhere. It is the duty of the youngest son to dwell with his parents, and support them as long as they live, and, when they die, he continues to live in the paternal home, of which he becomes the owner.”

A ceremony is performed in the seventh month of a woman’s first pregnancy, which is important, inasmuch as it seals the marriage contract, and, after its performance, [109]divorce can only be obtained through the decree of the panchāyat (tribal council). Moreover, if it has not been performed, a man cannot claim the paternity of the child. The ceremony is called kanni kattodu or kanni hākodu (thread tying or throwing). The husband and wife are seated in the midst of those who have assembled for the occasion, and the former asks his father-in-law whether he may throw the thread round his wife’s neck, and, having received permission, proceeds to do so. If he gets the thread, which must have no knots in it, entangled in the woman’s bunch of hair (kondai), which is made large for the occasion by the addition of false hair, he is fined three rupees. On the day of the ceremony, the man and his wife are supposed to be under pollution, and sit in the verandah to receive presents. The mats used by them for sleeping on are cleaned on the following morning, and they get rid of the pollution by bathing.

A first confinement must not take place within the house, and the verandah is converted into a lying-in chamber, from which the woman is, after delivery, removed to the outer apartment, where she remains till she is free from pollution by catching sight of the crescent moon. If a woman has been delivered at her father’s house, she returns to the home of her husband within a month of the birth of the child on an auspicious day. On arrival there, the infant is placed near the feet of an old man standing by a lamp within the milk-house. Placing his right hand over the head of the infant, the old man blesses it, and a feast is held, before the commencement of which two cups, one containing milk, and the other cooked rice, are produced. All the relations take up a little of the milk and rice, and touch the tongue of the baby with them. [110]

A child receives its name on the seventh, ninth, or eleventh day. A sumptuous meal is given to the community, and the grandfather (paternal, if possible) milks a cow, and pours the milk into a brass cup placed in the milk-house. With it a little cooked sāmai grain is mixed. The babe is washed with water brought from a stream; marked on the forehead with sacred ashes; a turmeric-dyed thread is tied round its waist; a silver or iron bangle placed on its wrists; and a silver bead tied by a thread round its neck. Thus decorated, the infant is taken up by the oldest man of the village who is not a widower, who gives it a name, which has already been chosen. The elder, and the child’s parents and grandparents then place a little milk in its mouth.

Children, both male and female, go through a shaving ceremony, usually when they are seven months old. The infant is seated in the lap of a Badaga, and, after water has been applied to its head by a Badaga or a barber, the maternal uncle removes some of the hair with a razor, and then hands it over to another Badaga or a barber to complete the operation.

Of the death rites as carried out by the Badaga sub-division, the following note was recorded during a visit to Kotagiri. When death is drawing near, a gold coin, called Vīrarāya hana or fanam, dipped in butter or ghī, is given to the dying man to swallow. If he is too far gone to be capable of swallowing, the coin is, according to Mr. Natesa Sastri, tied round the arm. But our informants told us that this is not done at the present day. “If,” Mr. Gover writes,13 “the tiny coin slips down, well. He will need both gold and ghī, the one to sustain his strength in the dark journey to the river of death, the [111]other to fee the guardian of the fairy-like bridge that spans the dreaded tide. If sense remains to the wretched man, he knows that now his death is nigh. Despair and the gold make recovery impossible, and there are none who have swallowed the Birianhana, and yet have lived. If insensibility or deathly weakness make it impossible for the coin to pass the thorax, it is carefully bound in cloth, and tied to the right arm, so that there may be nought to hinder the passage of a worthy soul into the regions of the blessed.” The giving of the coin to the dying man is apparently an important item, and, in the Badaga folk-tales, a man on the point of death is made to ask for a Vīrarāya fanam. When life is extinct, the corpse is kept within the house until the erection of the funeral car (gudikattu) is completed. Though Gover states that the burning must not be delayed more than twenty-four hours, at the present day the Badagas postpone the funeral till all the near relations have assembled, even if this necessitates the keeping of the corpse for two or three days. Cremation may take place on any day, except Tuesday. News of a death is conveyed to distant hamlets (hattis) by a Toreya, who is paid a rupee for his services. On approaching a hamlet, he removes his turban, to signify the nature of his errand, and, standing on the side of a hill, yells out “Dho! Dho! who is in the hamlet?” Having imparted his news, he proceeds on his journey to the next hamlet. On the morning of the day fixed for the funeral, the corpse is taken on a charpoy or native cot to an open space, and a buffalo led thrice round it. The right hand of the corpse is then lifted up, and passed over the horns of the buffalo. A little milk is drawn, and poured into the mouth of the corpse. Prior to this ceremony, two or three buffaloes may be let loose, and one of them captured, after the [112]manner of the Todas, brought near the corpse, and conducted round the cot. The funeral car is built up in five to eleven tiers, decorated with cloths and streamers, and one tier must be covered with black chintz. At the funeral of a young man, the Rev. A. C. Clayton noticed that the car was surmounted by a flag, and hung about with bread, oranges, plantains, and the bag containing the books which the youth had used in the Basel Mission School.14 By the poorer members of the community the car is replaced by a cot covered with cloth, and surmounted by five umbrellas. Immediately after the buffalo ceremony, the corpse is carried to the car, and placed in the lowest storey thereof, washed, and dressed in coat and turban. A new dhupati (coarse cloth) is wrapped round it. Two silver coins (Japanese yens or rupees) are stuck on the forehead. Beneath the cot are placed a crowbar, and baskets containing cakes, parched paddy, tobacco, chick pea (Cicer arietinum), jaggery and sāmai flour. A number of women, relations and friends of the dead man, then make a rush to the cot, and, sitting on it round the corpse, keep on waiting, while a woman near its head rings a bell. When one batch is tired, it is replaced by another. Badaga men then pour in in large numbers, and salute the corpse by touching the head, Toreyas and female relations touching the feet. Of those who salute, a few place inside the dhupati a piece of white cloth with red and yellow stripes, which has been specially prepared for the purpose. All then proceed to dance round the car to the music of the Kota band, near male relations removing their turban or woollen night cap, as a mark of respect, during the first three revolutions. Most of the male dancers are dressed up in [113]gaudy petticoats and smart turbans. “No woman,” Mr. Natesa Sastri writes, “mingles in the funeral dance if the dead person is a man, but, if the deceased is a woman, one old woman, the nearest relative of the dead, takes part in it.” But, at the funerals of two men which we witnessed, a few women danced together with the men. Usually the tribesmen continue to arrive until 2 or 3 P.M. Relations collect outside the village, and advance in a body towards the car, some, especially the sons-in-law of the dead man, riding on ponies, some of them carrying sāmai grain. As they approach the car, they shout “Ja! hoch; Ja! hoch.” The Muttu Kotas bring a double iron sickle with imitation buffalo horns on the tip, which is placed, with a hatchet, buguri (flute), and walking stick, on the car or on the ground beside it. When all are assembled, the cot is carried to an open space between the house and the burning-ground, followed by the car and a party of women carrying the baskets containing grain, etc. The car is then stripped of its trappings, and hacked to pieces. The widow is brought close to the cot, and removes her nose ornament (elemukkuthi), and other jewels. At both the funerals which we witnessed, the widow had a narrow strip of coloured chintz over her shoulders. Standing near the corpse, she removed a bit of wire from her ear-rings, a lock of hair, and a palm leaf roll from the lobe of the ear, and tied them up in the cloth of her dead husband. After her, the sisters of the dead man cut off a lock of hair, and, in like manner, tied it in the cloth. Women attached to a man by illegitimate ties sometimes also cut off a lock of hair, and, tying it to a twig of Dodonæa viscosa, place it inside the cloth. Very impressive is the recitation, or after-death confession of a dead man’s sins by an elder of the tribe standing at the head of the [114]corpse, and rapidly chanting the following lines, or a variation thereof, while he waves his right hand during each line towards the feet. The reproduction of the recitation in my phonograph never failed to impress the daily audience of Badagas, Kotas and Todas.

This is the death of Āndi.

In his memory the calf of the cow Belle has been set free.

From this world to the other.

He goes in a car.

Everything the man did in this world.

All the sins committed by his ancestors.

All the sins committed by his forefathers.

All the sins committed by his parents.

All the sins committed by himself.

The estranging of brothers.

Shifting the boundary line.

Encroaching on a neighbour’s land by removing the hedge.

Driving away brothers and sisters.

Cutting the kalli tree stealthily.

Cutting the mulli tree outside his boundary.

Dragging the thorny branches of the kotte tree.

Sweeping with a broom.

Splitting green branches.

Telling lies.

Uprooting seedlings.

Plucking growing plants, and throwing them in the sun.

Giving young birds to cats.

Troubling the poor and cripples.

Throwing refuse water in front of the sun.

Going to sleep after seeing an eclipse of the moon.

Looking enviously at a buffalo yielding an abundance of milk.

Being jealous of the good crops of others.

Removing boundary stones.

Using a calf set free at the funeral.

Polluting water with dirt.

Urinating on burning embers.

Ingratitude to the priest.

Carrying tales to the higher authorities. [115]

Poisoning food.

Not feeding a hungry person.

Not giving fire to one half frozen.

Killing snakes and cows.

Killing lizards and blood-suckers.

Showing a wrong path.

Getting on the cot, and allowing his father-in-law to sleep on the ground.

Sitting on a raised verandah, and driving thence his mother-in-law.

Going against natural instincts.

Troubling daughters-in-law.

Breaking open lakes.

Breaking open reservoirs of water.

Being envious of the prosperity of other villages.

Getting angry with people.

Misleading travellers in the forest.

Though there be three hundred such sins,

Let them all go with the calf set free to-day.

May the sins be completely removed!

May the sins be forgiven!

May the door of heaven be open!

May the door of hell be closed!

May the hand of charity be extended!

May the wicked hand be shrivelled!

May the door open suddenly!

May beauty or splendour prevail everywhere!

May the hot pillar be cooled!

May the thread bridge15 become light!

May the pit of perdition be closed!

May he reach the golden pillar!

Holding the feet of the six thousand Athis,

Holding the feet of the twelve thousand Pathis,

Holding the feet of Brahma,

Holding the feet of the calf set free to-day,

May he reach the abode of Siva!

So mote it be.


The recitation is repeated thrice, and a few Badagas repeat the last words of each line after the elder. It was noticed by the Rev. A. C. Clayton that, during the recitation, the people surrounded the bier on three sides, leaving a lane open to the west. The sins of the dead man were transferred to another as sin-bearer, and finally passed away down the lane. As the ceremony witnessed by us differs materially from the account thereof given by Gover nearly forty years ago, I may quote his description. “By a conventional mode of expression, the sum total of sins a man may do is said to be thirteen hundred. Admitting that the deceased has committed them all, the performer cries aloud ‘Stay not their flight to God’s pure feet.’ As he closes, the whole assembly chants aloud ‘Stay not their flight.’ Again the performer enters into details, and cries ‘He killed the crawling snake. It is a sin.’ In a moment the last word is caught up, and all the people cry ‘It is a sin.’ As they shout, the performer lays his hand upon the calf. The sin is transferred to the calf. Thus the whole catalogue is gone through in this impressive way. But this is not enough. As the last shout ‘Let all be well’ dies away, the performer gives place to another, and again confession is made, and all the people shout ‘It is a sin.’ A third time it is done. Then, still in solemn silence, the calf is let loose. Like the Jewish scapegoat, it may never be used for secular work.” Dr. Rivers writes that “the Badagas let loose a calf at a funeral, to bear the sins of the deceased. It is possible that the calf in the Toda ceremony may have the same significance. If so, the practice has not improbably been borrowed, and the fact that the bell which is hung on the neck of the calf is kept by Kotas or Badagas suggests that the whole incident may have been borrowed [117]by the Todas from one or other of these races.” At the funerals, of which we were spectators, no calf was brought near the corpse, and the celebrants of the rites were satisfied with the mere mention by name of a calf, which is male or female according to the sex of the deceased. At the funeral witnessed by the Rev. A. C. Clayton, a cow-buffalo was led three times round the bier, and a little of its milk, drawn at the time, put into the mouth of the corpse. Then a buffalo calf was led thrice round the bier, and the dead man’s hand laid on its head. By this act, the calf was supposed to receive all the sins of the deceased. It was then driven away to a great distance, that it might contaminate no one, and it was said that it would never be sold, but looked on as a dedicated sacred animal. If a dead man leaves a widow in a state of pregnancy, who has not performed the kanni kattodu or marriage thread ceremony, this must be gone through before the corpse is taken to the pyre, in order to render the child legitimate. The pregnant woman is, at the time of the funeral, brought close to the cot, and a near relation of the deceased, taking up a cotton thread, twisted in the form of a necklace without any knots, throws it round her neck. Sometimes the hand of the corpse is lifted up with the thread, and made to place it round the neck. At the funeral of the young man, Mr. Clayton saw this ceremony performed on his pregnant wife. After a turmeric-dyed cord had been taken from the hands of the corpse and tied round her neck, she was again brought to the side of the bier, and her ear-rings, nose ornaments, and other articles of jewellery, were removed in token that she had become a widow. Soon after the recitation of sins, all the agnates go to the house of the dead man, at the entrance to which a gunny-bag is spread, whereon a small [118]quantity of paddy is poured, and a few culms of Cynodon Dactylon and a little cow-dung are placed on it. The eldest of the agnates, sickle in hand, takes some of the paddy, and moves on, raising both hands to his forehead. The other agnates then do the same, and proceed in Indian file, males in front and females in the rear, to the corpse. Round it they walk, men from left to right, and women in the reverse direction, and at the end of each circuit put some of the paddy on its face. The cot is then carried to the burning-ground, a woman heading the procession, and shaking the end of her cloth all the way. The corpse is laid on the pyre with its feet to the south, and the pyre lighted by the eldest son standing at the head. The sticks of which the car was constructed are added to the fuel, of which the pyre is built up. In some places the son, when lighting the pyre, repeats the words “Being begotten by my father and mother, I, in the presence of all and the Dēva, set fire at the head after the manner of my ancestors and forefathers.” The Rev. A. C. Clayton records that, before the procession started for the burning-ground, some female relatives of the dead man tied locks of their hair round the toes of the corpse, and others went three times round the bier. On the day following the funeral, the bereaved family distribute rice to all the Badagas of the hamlet, and all the near relations of the deceased go to the burning-ground, taking with them two new pots. The fire is extinguished, and the fragments of the bones are collected. A tray is made of the fronds of the bracken fern (Pteris aquilina) covered with a cloth, on which the bones are placed together with culms of Cynodon grass and ghī. The Badagas of the hamlet who are younger than the deceased salute the bones by touching them, and a few men, including the chief mourner, [119]hold the tray, and convey it to the bone pit, which every hamlet possesses. Into it the bones are thrown, while an elder repeats the words “Become united with the line of your relations, with your class, and with the big people,” or “May the young and old who have died, may all those who have died from time immemorial up to the present time, mingle in one.” When the pit has been closed up, all return to the spot where the body was burnt, and, clearing a space, make a puddle, round which they stand, and throw into it a handful of korali (Setaria italica), uttering the words “May deaths cease; may evils cease; may good prevail in the village; in virtue of the good deeds of the ancestors and forefathers, may this one mingle with them.” This ceremony concluded, they repair to a stream, where a member of the bereaved family shaves a Toreya partially or completely. Some take a razor, and, after removing a patch of hair, pass the Toreya on to a barber. All the agnates are then shaved by a Badaga or a barber. The chief mourner then prostrates himself on the ground, and is blessed by all. He and the Toreya proceed to the house of the deceased. Taking a three-pronged twig of Rhodomyrtus tomentosus, and placing a mīnige (Argyreia) leaf on the prongs, he thrusts it into a rubbish heap near the house. He then places a small quantity of sāmai grain, called street food, on the leaf, and, after sprinkling it thrice with water, goes away.

It was noted by Harkness that, at the burning-ground, the son or representative of the deceased dropped a little grain into the mouth of the corpse, carrying in his left hand a small bar of iron, which is supposed to have a repulsive power over the spirits that hover about the dead. [120]

The final death ceremonies, or korambu, are celebrated on a Sunday. Towards evening the house of the deceased is cleansed with cow-dung, and Badaga men assemble therein, sending away all women. The chief mourner, accompanied by two Badagas carrying new pots, proceeds to a stream, where the pots are cleaned with cow-dung, and rubbed over with culms of Andropogon Schœnanthus. They are then filled with water, carried to the house, and deposited in the milk-room. At the entrance to the inner apartment, five agnates stand, holding a circular bamboo tray (kerachi) made of plaited bamboo, on which the chief mourner pours a small quantity of paddy, and spreads it with a sickle. The widow and other female relations come near, and cry. A few sickles or knives (preferably those which were used at the funeral) are placed on the tray, which is saluted by all the Badagas present. The paddy is husked in a mortar, and the rice cooked with Dolichos Lablab, Cicer arietinum, and other pulses, without the addition of salt. Early on the following morning, the eldest son, taking a small quantity of the rice to the roof of the house, places seven balls made therefrom on plantain or mīnige leaves, and recites the names of the male and female ancestors and forefathers, his mother, father, and brothers. The remainder of the rice is eaten by relations. In some places, the whole of the rice is divided into seven balls, and taken outside the house. Water is sprinkled over the roof, and a portion of the rice thrown thereon. Standing up before the assembled Badagas, an elder says “To-day we have acted up to the observances of our ancestors and forefathers. New ones should not be considered as old, or old as new. There is not a man carrying a head (wise man), or a woman carrying breasts (wise [121]woman). May he become united with the men of his clan and caste.”

The funeral rites of the Udayas differ in some important details from those of the Badaga sub-division. The buffalo catching, and leading the animal round the corpse, are omitted. But a steer and heifer are selected, and branded on the thigh, by means of a hot iron, with the lingam and other emblems. Bedecked with cloths and jewels, they are led to the side of the corpse, and made to stand on a blanket spread on the ground. They are treated as if they were lingams, and pūja is done to them by offering cocoanuts and betel leaves, and throwing flowers over them. Round their necks kankanams (marriage threads) are tied. They are made to turn so as to face away from the corpse, and their tails are placed in the hands thereof. An elder then proceeds with the recitation of the dead person’s sins. The Udayas bury their dead in a sitting posture in a cell dug out of the side of the grave, and, like the Irulas, prefer to use a grave in which a previous burial has taken place. At the four corners of the grave they place in the ground a plant of Leucas aspera, and pass a cotton thread laterally and diagonally across the grave, leaving out the side opposite the cell. Two men descend into the grave, and deposit the corpse in its resting place with two lighted lamps.

In 1905, an elaborate Badaga memorial ceremony for ancestors called manavalai, which takes place at long intervals, was celebrated on the Nīlgiris. I gather from the notes of a Native official that an enormous car, called ēlu kudi tēru (seven-storeyed car) was built of wood and bamboo, and decorated with silk and woollen fabrics, flags, and umbrellas. Inside the ground floor were a cot with a mattress and pillow, and the stem of [122]a plantain tree. The souls of the ancestors are supposed to be reclining on the cot, resting their heads on the pillow, and chewing the plantain, while the umbrellas protect them from the sun and rain. The ear ornaments of all those who have died since the previous ceremony should be placed on the cot. “A Badaga fell and hurt himself during the erection of the car. Whereupon, another Badaga became possessed, and announced that the god was angry because a Kurumba had something to do with the building of the structure. A council meeting was held, and the Kurumba fined twenty-five rupees, which were credited to the god. Sixty-nine petty bazars and three beer taverns had been opened for the convenience of all classes of people that had assembled. One very old Badaga woman said that she was twelve years old when the first European was carried in a chair by the Todas, and brought up the ghāt to the Nīlgiris from Coimbatore. On Wednesday at 10 A.M. people from the adjoining villages were announced, and the Kota band, with the village people, went forward, greeted them, and brought them to the car. As each man approached it, he removed his turban, stooped over the pillow and laid his head on it, and then went to join the ring for the dance. The dancers wore skirts made of white long-cloth, white and cream silks and satins with border of red and blue trimming, frock dresses, and dressing-gowns, while the coats, blouses, and jackets were of the most gaudy colours of silk, velvet, velveteen, tweed, and home-spun. As each group of people arrived, they went first to the temple door, saluted the god, and went to the basement of the car to venerate the deceased, and then proceeded to dance for an hour, received their supplies of rice, etc., and cleared off. Thursday and Friday were the grandest [123]days. Nearly three thousand females, and six thousand males, assembled on Thursday. To crown all the confusion, there appeared nearly a thousand Badagas armed with new mamotis (spades). They came on dancing for some distance, rushed into the crowd, and danced round the car. These Badagas belonged to a gang of public works, local fund, and municipal maistries. On the last day a sheep was slaughtered in honour of the deity. The musicians throughout the festivities were Kotas and Kurumbas. The dancing of the men of three score showed that they danced to music, and the stepping was admirable, while the dancing of young men did not show that they had any idea of dancing, or either taste or knowledge of music. They were merely skipping and jumping. This shows that the old art of the Badaga dance is fast decaying.” The cot is eventually burnt at the burning-ground, as if it contained a corpse.

A kind of edible truffle (Mylitta lapidescens) is known as little man’s bread on the Nīlgiris. The Badaga legendary name for it is Pāndva-unna-buthi, or dwarf bundle of food,16 i.e., food of the dwarfs, who are supposed once to have inhabited the Nīlgiris and built the pāndu kūlis or kistvaens.

The story goes that Lord Elphinstone, a former Governor of Madras, was anxious to build a residence at Kaiti. But the Badagas, who had on the desired site a sacred tree, would not part with the land. The Governor’s steward succeeded in making the Badaga headman drunk, and secured, for a rental of thirty-five rupees annually, the site, whereon a villa was built, which now belongs to the Basel Mission.17 [124]

In a recent work,18 Mr. A. H. Keane, in a note on the “Dravidian Aborigines,” writes as follows. “All stand on the very lowest rung of the social ladder, being rude hillmen without any culture strictly so called, and often betraying marked negroid characters, as if they were originally Negroes or Negritos, later assimilated in some respects to their Dravidian conquerors. As they never had a collective racial name, they should now be called, not Dravidians or proto-Dravidians, but rather pre-Dravidians, as more collectively indicating their true ethnical relations. Such are the Kotas, Irulas, Badagas, and Kurumbas.” It may be pointed out that the Badagas and Kotas of the Nīlgiri plateau are not “wild tribes,” have no trace of negroid characters, and no affinities with the Kurumbas and Irulas of the Nīlgiri slopes. The figures in the following table speak for themselves:—

Stature. Nasal Index.
Average cm. Maximum cm. Minimum cm. Average Maximum Minimum
Badaga 164.1 180.2 159.9 75.6 88.4 62.7
Kota 162.9 174.2 155. 77.2 92.9 64.
Irula 159.8 168. 152. 84.9 100. 72.3
Kurumba 157.5 163.6 149.6 88.8 111. 79.1

Badagi.—The carpenter sub-division of Pānchālas.

Badhōyi.—The Badhōyis are Oriya carpenters and blacksmiths, of whom the former are known as Badhōyi, and the latter as Komāro. These are not separate castes, and the two sections both interdine and intermarry. [125]The name Badhōyi is said to be derived from the Sanskrit vardhaki, which, in Oriya, becomes bardhaki, and indicates one who changes the form, i.e., of timber. Korti, derived from korto, a saw, occurs as the name of a section of the caste, the members of which are wood-sawyers. Socially, the Badhōyis occupy the same position as Doluvas, Kālinjis, and various other agricultural classes, and they do not, like the Tamil Kammālans, claim to be Viswakarma Brāhmans, descended from Viswakarma, the architect of the gods.

The hereditary headman is called Mahārāna, and, in some places, there seem to be three grades of Mahārāna, viz., Mahārāna, Dondopāto Mahārāna, and Swangso Mahārāna. These headmen are assisted by a Bhollobhaya or Dolobēhara, and there is a further official called Agopothiria, whose duty it is to eat with an individual who is re-admitted into the caste after a council meeting. This duty is sometimes performed by the Mahārāna. Ordinary meetings of council are convened by the Mahārāna and Bhollobhaya. But, if a case of a serious nature is to be tried, a special council meeting, called kulo panchāyat, is held in a grove or open space outside the village. All the Mahārānas and other officers, and representatives of five castes (panchapātako) equal or superior to the Badhōyis in the social scale, attend such a council. The complainant goes to the Swangso Mahārāna, and, giving him fifty areca nuts, asks him to convene the council meeting. Punishment inflicted by the caste council usually assumes the form of a fine, the amount of which depends on the worldly prosperity of the delinquent, who, if very indigent, may be let off with a reprimand and warning. Sometimes offences are condoned by feeding Brāhmans or the Badhōyi community. Small sums, collected as fines, are appropriated by the [126]headman, and large sums are set apart towards a fund for meeting the marriage expenses of the poorer members of the caste, and the expenditure in connection with kulo panchāyats.

Concerning the marriage ceremonies, Mr. D. Mahanty writes as follows. “At a marriage among the Badhōyis, and various other castes in Ganjam, two pith crowns are placed on the head of the bridegroom. On his way to the bride’s house, he is met by her purōhit (priest) and relations, and her barber washes his feet, and presents him with a new yellow cloth, flowers, and kusa grass (also called dharbha grass). When he arrives at the house, amid the recitations of stanzas by the priest, the blowing of conch shells and other music, the women of the bride’s party make a noise called hulu-huli, and shower kusa grass over him. At the marriage booth, the bridegroom sits upon a raised ‘altar,’ and the bride, who arrives accompanied by his maternal uncle, pours salt, yellow-coloured rice, and parched paddy (rice) over the head of the bridegroom, by whose side she seats herself. One of the pith crowns is removed from the bridegroom’s forehead, and placed on that of the bride. Various Brāhmanical rites are then performed, and the bride’s father places her hand in that of the bridegroom. A bundle of straw is now placed on the altar, on which the contracting parties sit, the bridegroom facing east, and the bride west. The purōhit rubs a little jaggery over the bridegroom’s right palm, joins it to the palm of the bride, and ties their two hands together with a rope made of kusa grass (hasthagonti). A yellow cloth is tied to the cloths which the bridal pair are wearing, and stretched over their shoulders (gontiyala). The hands are then untied by a married woman. Srādha is performed for the propitiation of ancestors, [127]and the purōhit, repeating some mantrams (prayers), blesses the pair by throwing yellow rice over them. On the sixth day of the ceremony, the bridegroom runs away from the house of his father-in-law, as if he was displeased, and goes to the house of a relation in the same or an adjacent village. His brother-in-law, or other male relation of the bride, goes in search of him, and, when he has found him, rubs some jaggery over his face, and brings him back.” As an example of the stanzas recited by the purōhit, the following may be cited:—

I have presented with my mind and word, and also with kusa grass and water.

The witnesses of this are fire, Brāhmans, women, relations, and all the dēvatas.

Forgive this presentable faithful maid.

I am performing the marriage according to the Vēdic rites.

Women are full of all kinds of faults. Forgive these faults.

Brāhma is the god of this maid.

By the grace of the god Vasudēva, I give to thee the bridegroom.

The Badhōyis are Paramarthos, and follow the Chaitanya form of Vaishnavism. They further worship various village deities. The dead are cremated. The corpse of a dead person is washed, not at the house, but at the burning-ground.

The most common caste title is Mahārāna. But, in some zemindāris, such titles as Bindhani Rathno, and Bindhani Būshano, have been conferred by the zemindars on carpenters for the excellence of their work.

The carpenters and blacksmiths hold ināms or rent-free lands both under zemindars and under Government. [128]In return, they are expected to construct a car for the annual festival of the village deity, at which, in most places, the car is burnt at the conclusion of the festival. They have further to make agricultural implements for the villagers, and, when officials arrive on circuit, to supply tent-pegs, etc.

Bagata.—The Bagatas, Bhaktās, or Baktas are a class of Telugu fresh-water fishermen, who are said to be very expert at catching fish with a long spear. It is noted, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “on the Dasara day they worship the fishing baskets, and also (for some obscure reason) a kind of trident.” The trident is probably the fishing spear. Some of the Bagatas are hill cultivators in the Agency tracts of Vizagapatam. They account for their name by the tradition that they served with great devotion (bhakti) the former rulers of Golgonda and Mādugula, who made grants of land to them in mokhāsa tenure. Some of them are heads of hill villages. The head of a single village is called a Padāl, and it may be noted that Padāla occurs as an exogamous sept of the Kāpus, of which caste it has been suggested that the Bagatas are an offshoot. The overlord of a number of Padāls styles himself Nāyak or Rāju, and a Mokhāsadar has the title of Dora. It is recorded, in the Census Report, 1871, that “in the low country the Bhaktās consider themselves to take the rank of soldiery, and rather disdain the occupation of ryots (cultivators). Here, however (in hill Mādugulu in the Vizagapatam district), necessity has divested them of such prejudices, and they are compelled to delve for their daily bread. They generally, nevertheless, manage to get the Kāpus to work for them, for they make poor farmers, and are unskilled in husbandry.” [129]

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Vizagapatam district, that “Matsya gundam (fish pool) is a curious pool on the Machēru (fish river) near the village of Matam, close under the great Yendrika hill, 5,188 feet above the sea. A barrier of rocks runs right across the river there, and the stream plunges into a great hole and vanishes beneath this, reappearing again about a hundred yards lower down. Just where it emerges from under the barrier, it forms a pool, which is crowded with mahseer of all sizes. These are wonderfully tame, the bigger ones feeding fearlessly from one’s hand, and even allowing their backs to be stroked. They are protected by the Mādgole zamindars—who on several grounds venerate all fish—and by superstitious fears. Once, goes the story, a Brinjāri caught one and turned it into curry, whereon the king of the fish solemnly cursed him, and he and all his pack-bullocks were turned into rocks, which may be seen there till this day. At Sivarātri, a festival occurs at the little thatched shrine near by, the priest at which is a Bagata, and part of the ritual consists in feeding the sacred fish.

“In 1901, certain envious Bagatas looted one of the villages of the Konda Mālas or hill Paraiyans, a pushing set of traders, who are rapidly acquiring wealth and exalted notions, on the ground that they were becoming unduly arrogant. The immediate cause of the trouble was the fact that at a cockfight the Mālas’ birds had defeated the Bagatas’.”

In a note on the Bagatas, Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao writes that the caste is divided into exogamous septs or intipērulu, some of which occur also among the Kāpus, Telagas, and Vantaris. Girls are married either before or after puberty, and the custom, called mēnarikam, which renders it a man’s duty to marry his maternal [130]uncle’s daughter, is the general rule. An Oriya or Telugu Brāhman officiates at marriages, and the bride is presented with jewelry as a substitute for the bride-price (vōli) in money. It is noted, in the Census Report, 1901, that, at a wedding, the bridegroom is struck by his brother-in-law, who is then presented with a pair of new cloths. The Bagatas are both Vaishnavites and Saivites, and the former get themselves branded on the arm by a Vaishnava guru, who lives in the Godāvari district. The Vaishnavites burn their dead, and the Saivites bury them in the customary sitting attitude. Sātānis officiate for the former, and Jangams for the latter. Both sections perform the chinna and pedda rōzu (big and little day) death ceremonies. The hill Bagatas observe the Itiga Ponduga festival, which is celebrated by the hill classes in Vizagapatam.

Bahusāgara (many seas).—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a synonym of Rangāri. The Rangāris are tailors and dyers, and the signification of the name is not clear.

Baidya.—See Vaidyan.

Bainēdu.—The Bainēdu, or Bainēdi, as they are called in the Census Report, 1901, are the musicians and barbers of the Mālas and Mādigas. At the peddadinamu death ceremony of the Gamallas, a Māla Bainēdu takes part in the recitation of the story of Ankamma, and in making the designs (muggu) on the ground.

Bairāgi.—The Bairāgis are a class of religious mendicants, who roam about all over India, and are for the most part recruited from North Indian castes. They are followers of Rāmānand, who founded the order at the end of the fourteenth, or beginning of the fifteenth century. According to common tradition, the schism of Rāmānand originated in resentment of an affront [131]offered him by his fellow disciples, and sanctioned by his teacher. It is said that he had spent some time in travelling through various parts of India, after which he returned to the math, or residence of his superior. His brethren objected to him that in the course of his peregrinations it was impossible he could have observed that privacy in his meals, which is a vital observance of the Rāmānuja sect; and, as Rāghavānand admitted the validity of the objection, Rāmānand was condemned to feed in a place apart from the rest of the disciples. He was highly incensed at the order, and retired from the society altogether, establishing a schism of his own.19

The name Bairāgi is derived from the Sanskrit vairāgya (vi + rāg), denoting without desire or passion, and indicates an ascetic, who has subdued his passions, and liberated himself from worldly desires. The Bairāgis are sometimes called Bāvāji or Sādhu.

The Bairāgis are Vaishnavites, and bear the Tengalai Vaishnava mark (nāmam), made with sandal-paste or gōpi, on the forehead. Bairāgis with a Vadagalai mark are very rare. The Bairāgis wear necklaces of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) beads or lotus (Nelumbium speciosum) seeds. Every Bairāgi cooks his food within a space cleansed with cow-dung water by himself or his disciple, and will not leave the space until he has finished his meal. The Bairāgis are not particular about screening the space from the public gaze. They partake of one meal daily, in the afternoon, and are abstainers from flesh dietary. They live mainly on alms obtained in the bazars, or in choultries (rest-houses for travellers). They generally carry with them one or two [132]brass vessels for cooking purposes, a sālagrāma stone and a conch-shell for worship, and a chillum (pipe) for smoking ganja (Indian hemp) or opium. They are, as a rule, naked except for a small piece of cloth tied round the waist and passed between the thighs. Some wear more elaborate body-clothing, and a turban. They generally allow the beard to grow, and the hair of the head is long and matted, with sometimes a long tail of yak or human hair tied in a knot on the top of the head. Those who go about nearly naked smear ashes all over their bodies. When engaged in begging, some go through the streets, uttering aloud the name of some God. Others go from house to house, or remain at a particular spot, where people are expected to give them alms.

Some Bairāgis are celibates, and others married. They are supposed to be celibates, but, as Dr. T. N. Bhattacharjee observes,20 the “monks of this order have generally a large number of nuns attached to their convents, with whom they openly live as man and wife.” The Bairāgis are very particular about the worship of the sālagrāma stone, and will not partake of food without worshipping it. When so doing, they cover their head with a piece of cloth (Rām nām ka safa), on which the name Rāma is printed in Dēvanāgiri characters. Their face and shoulders are stamped, by means of brass stamps, with the word Rāma in similar characters. For the purpose of meditation, the Bairāgi squats on the ground, sometimes with a deer or tiger skin beneath him, and rests his hands on the cross-piece of his yōga-dandam, or bent stick. A pair of tongs is stuck in the ground on his right side, and sometimes fire is kept [133]near it. It is noted by Mr. J. C. Oman21 that “a most elaborate ritual has been laid down for the guidance of Bairāgis in the daily routine of the indispensable business and duties of life, prescribing in minute detail how, for example, the ascetic should wash, bathe, sit down, perform pranayam (stoppage or regulation of respiration), purify his body, purge his mind, meditate on Vishnu, repeat the Gāyatri (hymn) as composed for the special use of members of the sect, worship Rāma, Sita, Lakshman, Bharata, and Satringah, together with Rāma’s bows and arrows, and, lastly, the monkey god Hanumān.”

The Bairāgis have a guru or priest, whom they call Mahant. Some visit the celebrated temple near Tirupati and pay their respects to the Mahant thereof.

Baisya.—A sub-division of Koronos of Ganjam.

Baita Kammara.—The name, meaning outside blacksmiths, applied to Kamsala blacksmiths, who occupy a lowly position, and work in the open air or outside a village.22

Bājantri.—A synonym of Mangala, indicating their occupation as professional musicians.

Bakta.—See Bagata.

Bākuda.—A sub-division of Holeya.

Balanollu.—Balanollu and Badranollu are names of gōtras of Gānigas, the members of which may not cut Erythroxylon monogynum.

Bālasantōsha.—The Bālasantōsha or Bālasanta vāndlu (those who please children) are described in the Kurnool Manual as “ballad reciters, whose chief stories are the Bobbili katha, or the story of the siege of the fort of Bobbili in Vizagapatam by Bussy; the Kurnool [134]Nabob’s katha or the story of the resumption of Kurnool by the English; and the tale of the quarrels between Ganga and Parvati, the two wives of Siva.”

Balēgara (bangle man).—An occupational sub-division of Banajiga.

Balija.—The Balijas are described by Mr. Francis23 as being “the chief Telugu trading caste, scattered throughout all parts of the Presidency. It is said to have two main sub-divisions, Dēsa (or Kōta, a fort) and Pēta (street). The first of these includes those, whose ancestors are supposed to have been the Balija (Nāyak) kings of Madura, Tanjore and Vijayanagar, or provincial governors in those kingdoms; and to the second belong those, like the Gāzulu (bangle sellers) and Perike (salt-sellers), who live by trade. In the Tamil districts Balijas are known as Vadugans (Telugu people) and Kavarais. The descendants of the Nāyak or Balija Kings of Madura and Tanjore claim to be Kshatriyas and of the Kāsyapa (a rishi) gōtra, while the Vijayanagar Rāis say they are lineal descendants of the sage Bhāradwāja. Others trace their ancestry to the Kauravas of the Mahābhārata. This Kshatriya descent is, however, not admitted by other castes, who say that Balijas are an offshoot of the Kammas or Kāpus, or that they are a mixed community recruited from these and other Telugu castes. The members of the caste none of them now wear the sacred thread, or follow the Vēdic ritual. The name Kartākkal (governors) was returned by those who claim to be descendants of the Nāyak Kings of Madura and Tanjore.”

In a letter submitted, from Coimbatore, to Mr. Francis in connection with the census, 1901, it was [135]stated that “the Balija people are Kshatriyas of the Lunar Race, as can be proved by a reference to the Bahgavatham, Vishnupurānam, and Brahmmandapurānam, etc.... In this connection, it will be interesting to note that one Sevappa Naidu married Murthiammal, sister-in-law to Achuta Dēva Rayulu of Narapathi Samasthanam of Vijayanagar, and as a marriage portion or dowry received the territory of Tanjore, over which he ruled as king for a long period. It was at this time that the celebrated Tirumalay Naidu of Madura took as wife one of the daughters of Sevappa Naidu’s family. Tirumalay’s grandson, one Chockalinga Naidu, married Mangammal, daughter of Vijiaragavulu Naidu, a grandson of the said Tanjore Sevappa Naidu. It will thus be seen that the Naidu rulers of Tanjore, Trichinopoly, and Madura, were all relations of Narapathi Samasthanam of Vijianagar. That these Narapathies of Vijianagaram were Kshatriyas of the Lunar Race can be clearly seen by a reference to Manucharithra, Pārijāthāpaharanam, Prouda Prabanda Kavi Charitra, etc., and that they were direct descendants of the great Andra Kings can be proved with equal satisfaction by referring to Colonel Mackenzie’s MSS., in the introduction of A. D. Campbell’s Telugu Grammar, and James Prinsep’s Useful Tables of Andra Kings will show that the Andras were immediate descendants of the well-known Yayathi Rāja of the Lunar Race.”

“The Balijas,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,24 “are the trading caste of the Telugu country, but they are now found in every part of the Presidency. Concerning the origin of this caste several traditions exist, but the most probable is that which represents them as a recent [136]offshoot of the Kāpu or Reddi caste. The caste is rather a mixed one, for they will admit, without much scruple, persons who have been expelled from their proper caste, or who are the result of irregular unions. The bulk of the Balijas are now engaged in cultivation, and this accounts for so many having returned Kāpu as their main caste, for Kāpu is also a common Telugu word used for a ryot (farmer). It is not improbable that there was once a closer connection than now between the Kāpus and the Balijas, and the claim of the Balijas to belong to the Kāpu caste may have a foundation in fact. In their customs there is very little difference between the Kāpus and Balijas. Their girls are married both before and after puberty. The re-marriage of widows is forbidden. They eat flesh, and alcohol is said to be freely indulged in [There is a proverb ‘If a man be born a Balija, he must crack the arrack bottle’]. Like the Bōgams and Sānis, the Balija females usually wear a petticoat instead of the long robe of ordinary Hindus. The general name of the caste is Naidu.” “The Balija Naidu,” it has been said,25 “is to be met with in almost every walk of life—railway station-masters, head coolies, bakers, butlers, municipal inspectors, tappal (post) runners, hawkers, and hotel-keepers. The title Chetti is by some used in preference to Naidu.” It is noted in the Bellary Manual that the Balijas “have by common consent obtained a high place in the social system of South India. Some are land-owners, residing on and working their own property with the help of members of inferior castes; but the majority live by trade.” At Tirupati, a number of Balija families are engaged in the red sanders wood (Pterocarpus santalinus), carving [137]industry. Figures of swāmis (deities), mythological figures, elephants, and miniature temple cars with flying cherubs and winged horses, are most abundantly carved: but domestic utensils in the shape of chembus, kinnis, cups, plates, etc., are turned on the lathe. Large vessels are sometimes made of the wood of vēpi or āchamaram (Hardwickia binata), which resembles red sanders wood, but is more liable to crack. The carved figures are sold to pilgrims and others who visit Tirupati, and are also taken to Conjeeveram, Madura, and other places, at times when important temple festivals are celebrated. Vessels made of red sanders wood carry no pollution, and can be used by women during the menstrual period, and taken back to the house without any purification ceremony. For the same reason, Sanyāsis (ascetics) use such vessels for doing pūja.

The name Balija is said to be derived from the Sanskrit bali (a sacrifice) and ja (born), signifying that the Balijas owe their origin to the performance of a yāgam. The legend is current that on one occasion Siva wanted his consort Parvati to appear before him in all her glory. But, when she stood before him, fully decorated, he laughed, and said that she was not as charming as she might be. On this, she prayed that Siva would help her to become so. From his braid of hair Siva created a being who descended on the earth, bearing a number of bangles and turmeric paste, with which Parvati adorned herself. Siva, being greatly pleased with her appearance, told her to look at herself in a looking-glass. The being, who brought the bangles, is believed to have been the ancestor of the Gāzula Balijas. According to another version of the legend, Parvati was not satisfied with her appearance when she saw herself in the looking-glass, and asked her [138]father to tell her how she was to make herself more attractive. He accordingly prayed to Brahma, who ordered him to perform a severe penance (thapas). From the sacrificial fire, kindled in connection therewith, arose a being leading a donkey laden with heaps of bangles, turmeric, palm leaf rolls for the ears, black beads, sandal powder, a comb, perfumes, etc. From this Maha Purusha who thus sprang from a sacrifice (bali), the Balijas derived their origin and name. To him, in token of respect, were given flags, torches, and certain musical instruments.

The Dēsāyis, or leaders of the right-hand faction, are said to be Balijas by caste. In former days they had very great influences, and all castes belonging to the right-hand faction would obey the Dēsāyi Chetti. Even at the present day, the Oddēs and others refer their disputes to the Dēsāyi, and not to their own caste headman. In former times there were three principal Dēsāyis, who had their head-quarters at Conjeeveram, Cuddalore, and Walajapet. The head Dēsāyi possesses a biruthu (insigne of office) in the form of a large brass ladle with a bell attached to it. On the occasion of Balija marriages and funerals, this is sent through the Chalavathi (a pariah), who is the servant of the Dēsāyi, and has the right of allu eduththal (taking a handful) when he goes to the bazaar, where he receives meat from the butcher, vegetables, etc., as his perquisite. The Dēsāyi’s ladle is kept in the custody of the Chalavathi (See Dēsāyi).

Gazula Balija with Bangles.

Gazula Balija with Bangles.

The Balijas, Mr. Stuart writes,26 “employ Brāhmans and Sātānis as their priests. The chief object of their worship is Gauri, their caste deity. It is said that the [139]Mālas are the hereditary custodians of the idol of Gauri and her jewels, which the Balijas get from them whenever they want to worship her. The following story is told to account for this. The Kāpus and Balijas, molested by the Muhammadan invaders on the north of the northern Pennār, migrated to the south when the Pennār was in full flood. Being unable to cross the river, they invoked their deity to make a passage for them, for which it demanded the sacrifice of a first-born child. While they stood at a loss what to do, the Mālas who followed them boldly offered one of their children to the goddess. Immediately the river divided before them, and the Kāpus and the Balijas crossed it, and were saved from the tyranny of the Muhammadans. Ever since that time, the Mālas have been respected by the Kāpus and Balijas, and the latter even deposited the images of Gauri, the bull and Ganēsa, which they worshipped, in the house of a Māla. I am credibly informed that the practice of leaving these images in the custody of Mālas is even now observed in some parts of the Cuddapah district and elsewhere.”

Of the numerous sub-divisions of the Balijas, the following may be noticed:—

Gāzula, glass bangles. Valaiyal or vala (bangle) Chetti is the Tamil equivalent. By some the sight of a Gāzula Balija with his pile of bangles on his back is considered a good omen. In recent years, a scare has arisen in connection with an insect, which is said to take up its abode in imported German glass bangles, which compete with the indigenous industry of the Gāzulas. The insect is believed to lie low in the bangle till it is purchased, when it comes out and nips the wearer, after warning her to get her affairs in order before succumbing. A specimen of a broken bangle, from which the insect is stated to have burst forth and stung a girl in the wrist, was sent to me. But the insect was not forthcoming. [140]

Gandavallu, or Gundapodi vāndlu. Go about the villages, hawking turmeric, kunkumam (colour powder), kamela (Mallotus philippinensis) dye powder, beads, combs, cosmetics and other articles. Supposed to have been originally Kōmatis.

Kavarai, Tamil synonym for Balija.



Telugu or Telaga. A synonym for Balija in the Northern Circars.

Rājamāhendram or Mūsu Kamma. The former denotes the town of Rajahmundry, and the latter a special ear-ornament worn by women.

Tōta, garden.

Ralla, precious stones.

Pagadala, coral.

Pūsa, beads.

Rācha, royal.

Vyāsa. A sage (rishi) or hunter, whom the hunting classes claim as their ancestor.

Other sub-divisions, classified as Balijas at the census, 1901, were:—

Jakkulas, among whom it was, at Tenali in the Kistna district, formerly customary for each family to give up one girl for prostitution. Under the influence of social reform, a written agreement was a few years ago entered into to give up the practice.

Ādapāpa. Female attendants on the ladies of the families of Zamindars, who, as they are not allowed to marry, lead a life of prostitution. Their sons call themselves Balijas. In some places, e.g., the Kistna and Godāvari districts, this class is known as Khasa or Khasavandlu.

Santa Kavarai. Returned as Balijas in the Chingleput district.

Ravut. Returned in the Salem district. Said to have been formerly soldiers under the Poligars.

Like other Telugu castes, the Balijas have exogamous septs (intipēru) and gōtras. Of the former, the following are examples:—

Balija Bride and Bridegroom.

Balija Bride and Bridegroom.


  • Tupākala, musket.
  • Samudram, ocean.
  • Pappu, split pulse.
  • Gantla, bell.
  • Puli, tiger.
  • Balli, lizard.
  • Āvula, cow.
  • Gandham, sandal paste or powder.
  • Jilakara, cummin seeds.
  • Miriyāla, pepper.
  • Mutyāla, pearls.
  • Nārikēlla, cocoanut.
  • Nemili, peacock.
  • Pagadāla, coral.
  • Pattindla, silk house.
  • Ratnāla, precious stones.
  • Ungarāla, rings.
  • Yenumala, buffalo.

There is a saying that a Balija who has no gōtra must take the name of the Pasuleti, or Pasupuleti gōtra. In like manner, a Brāhman orphan, whose gōtra cannot be traced, is made to adopt the Vathsa gōtra.

Among the Mūsu Kammas, the consent of both the maternal uncle and elder sister’s husband must be obtained before a girl is given in marriage. At the betrothal ceremony, the future bridegroom’s relations proceed to the house of the girl, carrying the following articles on an odd number of trays beneath a cloth canopy (ulladam): mustard, fenugreek (Trigonella Fœnumgræcum), cummin seeds, curds, jaggery, dhāl (Cajanus indicus), balls of condiments, tamarinds, pepper, twenty-one cakes, eleven cocoanuts, salt, plantains, flowers, a new cloth, black beads, a palm-leaf roll for the ear lobe, turmeric, a comb, and kunkumam (colour powder). A few rupees, called kongu mudi, to be given to the future mother-in-law, are also placed on the tray. The contracting parties exchange betel and a cocoanut, of which the latter is taken away by a member of the bridegroom’s party, tied up in his body-cloth. The girl is seated on a plank, goes through the ceremony (nalagu) of being anointed with oil and paste, and is presented with a new cloth. Wearing this, she sits on the plank, and betel, flowers, jewels, etc., are placed in [142]her lap. A near female relation then ties a string of black beads round her neck. Among the Mūsu Kammas, the milk-post, consisting of a green bamboo, with sometimes a branch of Odina Wodier, must be set up two days before the commencement of the marriage ceremonies. It is worshipped, and to it are tied an iron ring, and a string of cotton and wool twisted together (kankanam). A small framework, called dhornam, made of two sticks, across which cotton threads or pieces of cloth are stretched, is brought by a washerwoman, and given to the maternal uncle of the bridegroom, who ties it to the marriage booth. The marriage pots are brought from a potter’s house beneath a cloth canopy (ulladam), and given to married couples, closely related to the bridegroom, who fetch water, and place the pots on the dais. Some married women pour rice on a clean white cloth spread on the floor, and rub off the bran with their hands, while they sing songs. The cloth to be worn by the bridegroom is dipped in turmeric water by these women and dried. The Balijas are very particular about the worship of their female ancestors (pērantālu) and no auspicious ceremony can be commenced until pērantālu pūja has been performed. Among the Mūsu Kammas, five women, who are closely related to the bridal couple, take only one meal a day, and try to keep free from pollution of all sorts. They go through the nalagu ceremony, and are presented with new cloths. Among other sections, the wall is simply painted with turmeric dots to represent the ancestors. The ancestor worship concluded, the finger and toe-nails of the bridegroom are cut, and a Mūsu Kamma bridegroom is conducted to a temple of Vignēswara (Ganēsa), if there is one near at hand. By other sections it is considered sufficient, if Vignēswara worship is performed at the [143]marriage booth. The Mūsu Kamma bridegroom is dressed up at the temple, and a bashingam (chaplet) tied on his forehead. An old-fashioned turban (pāghai) is placed on his head, and a dagger (jimthadu) stuck into his waist-cloth. It is said that, in olden times, the Balijas used to worship the dagger, and sacrifice sheep or goats at marriages. The bridegroom is next brought to the house where the wedding is being celebrated, and his brother-in-law washes his feet, and, after throwing flowers and rice over them, puts toe-rings and shoes thereon. The Brāhman purōhit lights the sacred fire (hōmam), and pours ghī (clarified butter) therein, while he utters some verses, Vēdic or other. He then ties the kankanam (thread) on the bridegroom’s wrist. The parents of the bride next proceed with the dhārādhattam (gift of the girl) by pouring water and grains of rice into the hands of the bridegroom. Vignēswara is then worshipped, and the bottu (marriage badge) is blessed by those assembled, and handed to the bridegroom. He, placing his right foot on that of the bride, who is separated from him by a screen, ties it round her neck. The couple then exchange seats, and rice is thrown in front of them. They next go thrice round the dais and milk-post, and, at the end of the first and second rounds, the foot of the bride is placed on a grinding stone. After the third round they gaze at the pole-star (Arundati). Into one of the marriage pots are put a pap-bowl, ring, and bracelet, which are picked out by the couple. If the pap-bowl is first got hold of by the bridegroom, the first-born child will be a boy; if the ring, it will be a girl. This rite concluded, the bridegroom makes a mark on the bride’s forehead with collyrium. On the second day, the bridegroom makes a pretence of being angry, and stays in a garden or house near that [144]in which the marriage ceremonies are conducted. The bride, and some of her relations, go to him in procession, and, treating him with great respect, bring him back. The sacred fire is lighted, and the bride enters the room in which the marriage pots (aravēni) are kept. The bridegroom is stopped at the entrance thereto by a number of married women, and has to call his wife by her name, and pay a small sum of money for the ārathi (coloured water), which is waved by the women, to ward off the evil eye. In some places, the sister of the bridegroom extracts a promise that his coral (daughter) shall be given in marriage to her pearl (son). He is then permitted to enter the room. On the third day, after hōmam has been performed by the Brāhman priest, the newly married couple go through a burlesque imitation of domestic life, after they have worshipped the posts of the booth, and perform a mimic ploughing ceremony, the bridegroom stirring up some earth in a basket with a stick or miniature plough. This, in some places, his sister tries to prevent him from doing by covering the basket with a cloth, and he has to say “I will give my coral to your pearl.” His brother-in-law tries to squeeze his fingers between a pair of sticks called kitti, which was, in former times, a very popular form of torture as a means of extracting confession. The bride gives her husband some conji (rice-gruel) to refresh him after his pretended labour.

At a marriage among the Perikes (q.v.), a gunny-bag is said to be worshipped before the bottu is tied. A quantity of rice is measured on the first day of the ceremonies and tied up in a cloth. On the third day, the cloth is opened, and it is considered an auspicious sign if the quantity of rice exceeds that which was originally put into it. Among the Rājamāhendram [145]Balijas, just before the nalagu ceremony, the knees, shoulders, and cheeks of the bride and bridegroom are touched with a pestle, while the names of their septs are called out. On the third day, the same process is repeated, but in the reverse order. A Gāzula Balija bride must, when the bottu is tied, be dressed in a white cloth with red stripes, called sanna pappuli. With other sections, a white cloth dyed with turmeric is de rigeur.

Balija, it may be noted, is, in the North Arcot Manual, returned as a division of Dāsaris and Īdigas. The better classes of Mēdaras (cane-splitters and mat-makers) are also taking to calling themselves Balijas, and assume the title Chetti. Oddēs and Upparas sometimes style themselves Oddē Balija and Uppara Balija. They belong to the right-hand section, which is headed by the Dēsayi, who is a Balija, and so describe themselves as belonging to the Setti or Chetti samayam (section). Some members of the Mila and Vāda fishing castes have adopted Ōda or Vāda (boat) Balija as their caste name.

Ballāla.—Ballāla, or Bellāla, was returned, at the census, 1901, as the caste name of a number of individuals, indicating their claim to descent from the Hoysal Ballāl kings of Mysore. Ballāl is a title assumed by Bant families of position. There is a proverb that, when a Bant becomes powerful, he becomes a Ballāl.27

Ballem (spear).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Balli (lizard).—An exogamous sept of Balija.

Bālolika.—A synonym of Rājāpuri.

Bālu (bear).—A sept of Dōmb.

Bāna (big pot).—An exogamous sept of Togatas, and a name for Telugu washermen, who are sometimes [146]called Bāna Tsākala. Bāna is the Telugu name for the pot which they use for boiling the clothes in.

Banajiga (vanik, tradesman).—Canarese traders, many of whom are Lingāyats. See Linga Balija.

Banda.—Banda, as applied to the Mondi mendicant class, seems to be used in the sense of an obstinate fellow. Some, however, maintain that it refers to a beggar who carries about a stone, and threatens to beat his brains out, if alms are not forthcoming. Banda, meaning a rock, also occurs as an exogamous sept of Oddē.

Bandāri.—Bandāri, denoting apparently the shrub Dodondæa viscosa, is an exogamous sept of Oddē. It further occurs, in the sense of a temple treasurer, as an exogamous sept of Dēvāngas and Padma Sālēs, for whom the Bandāri acts as caste messenger. It is also the name of the assistant to the headman, or Pattakar, of the Okkiliyans, a title of Konkani Brāhmans, and a synonym of Kelasis.

Bāndēkāra.—A synonym for Konkani Vānis (traders), who are said, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, to ape the Brāhmanical customs, and call themselves by the curious hybrid name of Vasiya (or Vaisya) Brāhman.

Bandi (cart).—An exogamous sept of Kāpu, Kavarai, Korava, Kumbāra, Kurni, Kuruba, Māla, Oddē, Stānika, and Yānādi. It further occurs as a name for Koravas, who drag the temple car at times of religious festival. Vandikkāran (cartmen) is an occupational name for Nāyars, who work as cartmen for carrying fuel.

Bangāru Mukkara (gold nose ornament).—A sub-division of Kamma.

Baniya.—The Baniyas or Bunyas are immigrant traders and money-lenders (sowcars) from Northern [147]India, who have settled down in the southern bazars, where they carry on a lucrative business, and wax sleek and wealthy. Bania also occurs as a synonym for the South Indian trading caste, the Kōmatis.

It may be noted, as a little matter of history, that, in 1677, the Court of Directors, in a letter to Fort St. George, offered “twenty pounds reward to any of our servants or soldiers as shall be able to speak, write, and translate the Banian language, and to learn their arithmetic.”28

Bānjāri.—A synonym of Lambādi.

Banka (gum).—An exogamous sept of Motāti Kāpu.

Bannagara (a painter).—A synonym of Chitrakāra.

Bannān.—A synonym of Vannān or Mannān, recorded at times of census. In like manner Bannata occurs as a Canarese form of the Malayālam Veluttēdan or Vannattān.

Banni or Vanni (Prosopis spicigera).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba and Kurni. The tree is worshipped because on it “the five Pāndava princes hung up their arms when they entered Virāt Nagra in disguise. On the tree the arms turned to snakes, and remained untouched till the owners returned.” (Lisboa.)

Bant.—For the following account of the Bants I am mainly indebted to Mr. H. A. Stuart’s description of them in the Manual of South Canara. The name Bant, pronounced Bunt, means in Tulu a powerful man or soldier, and indicates that the Bants were originally a military class corresponding to the Nāyars of Malabar. The term Nādava instead of Bant in the northern portions of South Canara points, among other indications, to a territorial organisation by nāds similar to that described [148]by Mr. Logan as prevailing in Malabar. “The Nāyars,” he writes, “were, until the British occupied the country, the militia of the district. Originally they seem to have been organised into ‘Six Hundreds,’ and each six hundred seems to have had assigned to it the protection of all the people in a nād or country. The nād was in turn split up into taras, a Dravidian word signifying originally a foundation, the foundation of a house, hence applied collectively to a street, as in Tamil teru, in Telugu teruvu, and in Canarese and Tulu terāvu. The tara was the Nāyar territorial unit for civil purposes.” It has been stated that “the Malabar Nair chieftain of old had his nād or barony, and his own military class; and the relics of this powerful feudal system still survive in the names of some of the tāluks (divisions) of modern Malabar, and in the official designations of certain Nair families, whose men still come out with quaint-looking swords and shields to guard the person of the Zamorin on the occasion of the rice-throwing ceremony, which formally constitutes him the ruler of the land. Correspondingly, the Bants of the northern parts of Canara still answer to the territorial name of Nād Bants, or warriors of the nād or territory. It is necessary to explain that, in both ancient Kēralam and Tulu, the functions of the great military and dominant classes were so distributed that only certain classes were bound to render military service to the ruling prince. The rest were lairds or squires, or gentleman farmers, or the labourers and artisans of their particular community, though all of them cultivated a love of manly sports.”29

Few traces of any such organisation as has been indicated now prevail, great changes having been made [149]when the Vijayanagar Government introduced, more than five hundred years ago, a system of administration under which the local Jain chiefs, though owing allegiance to an overlord, became more independent in their relations with the people of the country. Under the Bednūr kings, and still more under the Mysore rule, the power of the chiefs was also swept away, but the old organisation was not reverted to.

The Bants are now the chief land-owning and cultivating class in South Canara, and are, with the exception of the Billavas or toddy-drawers, the most numerous caste in the district. “At the present day, the Bants of Canara are largely the independent and influential landed gentry, some would say, perhaps, the substantial yeomanry. They still retain their manly independence of character, their strong and well developed physique, and they still carry their heads with the same haughty toss as their forefathers did in the stirring fighting days when, as an old proverb had it, ‘The slain rested in the yard of the slayer,’ and when every warrior constantly carried his sword and shield. Both men and women of the Bant community are among the comeliest of Asiatic races, the men having high foreheads and well-turned aquiline noses.”

In a note on the agricultural economy of South Canara, Rao Sahib T. Raghaviah writes30 that “the ryot (cultivator) of South Canara loves to make his land look attractive, and every field is lined with the lovely areca, and the stately palm. The slopes adjoining the rich fields are studded with plantations of jack, mango, cashew, plantain and other fruit and shade trees, and the ryot would not even omit to daub his trees with the [150]alternate white and red bands, with which the east coast women love to adorn a marriage house or temple wall. These, with the regularly laid out and carefully embanked water-courses and streams, lend an air of enchantment to the whole scene. The ignorance prevailing among the women of the richer section of the landed classes (on the east coast) is so great that it is not uncommon to ridicule a woman by saying that what she knows about paddy (rice) is that it grows on a tree. But, in a district like South Canara, the woman that does not know agriculture is the exception. I have often come across respectable women of the landed classes like the Bants, Shivallis, and Nairs, managing large landed estates as efficiently as men. The South Canara woman is born on the land, and lives on it. She knows when to sow, and when to reap; how much seed to sow, and how much labour to employ to plough, to weed, or to reap. She knows how to prepare her seed, and to cure her tobacco, to garner her grain, and to preserve her cucumbers through the coming monsoon. She knows further how to feed her cow, and to milk it, to treat it when sick, and to graze it when hale. She also knows how to make her manure, and how to use it without wasting a bit of it. She knows how to collect green leaves for her manure, and to help the fuel reserve on the hill slope above her house grow by a system of lopping the branches and leaving the standards. She knows also how to collect her areca nuts, and to prepare them for the market, and to collect her cocoanuts, and haggle for a high price for them with her customers. There is, in fact, not a single thing about agriculture which the South Canara man knows, and which the South Canara woman does not know. It is a common sight, as one passes through a paddy flat or along the adjoining slope, to see housewives bringing out handfuls [151]of ashes collected in the oven over night, and depositing them at the root of the nearest fruit tree on their land.”

Most of the Bants are Hindus by religion, and rank as Sūdras, but about ten thousand of them are Jains. Probably they originally assumed Jainism as a fashionable addition to the ancestral demon worship, to which they all still adhere, whether they profess to be Vaishnavites, Saivites, or Jains. It is probable that, during the political supremacy of the Jains, a much larger proportion of the Bants professed adherence to that religion than now-a-days.

There are four principal sub-divisions of the caste, viz., Māsādika, who are the ordinary Bants of Tuluva; Nādava or Nād, who speak Canarese, and are found in the northern part of South Canara; the Parivāra, who do not follow the aliya santāna system of inheritance; and the Jains. Members of these sub-divisions may not intermarry, but instances have occurred of marriage between members of the Māsādika and Nād sub-divisions.

Nothing very definite is known of the origin of the Bants, but Tuluva seems, in the early centuries of the Christian era, to have had kings who apparently were sometimes independent and sometimes feudatories of overlords, such as the Pallavas, the early Kadambas, the early Chālukyans, the later Kadambas, the western Chālukyans, the Kalachurians, and the Hoysal Ballāls. This indicates a constant state of fighting, which would account for an important class of the population being known as Bantaru or warriors; and, as a matter of course, they succeeded in becoming the owners of all the land which did not fall to the share of the priestly class, the Brāhmans. Ancient inscriptions speak of kings of [152]Tuluva, and the Bairasu Wodears of Kārakal, whose inscriptions have been found at Kalasa as early as the twelfth century, may have exercised power throughout Tuluva or the greater part of it. But, when the Vijayanagar dynasty became the overlords of Canara in 1336, there were then existing a number of minor chiefs who had probably been in power long before, and the numerous titles still remaining among the Bants and Jains, and the local dignities known as Pattam and Gadi, point to the existence from very early times of a number of more or less powerful local chieftains. The system peculiar to the west coast under which all property vests in females, and is managed by the seniors of the family, was also favourable to the continuance of large landed properties, and it is probable that it is only within comparatively recent times that sub-division of landed property became anything like as common as it is now. All the Bants, except the Parivāra and a few Jains follow this aliya santāna system of inheritance,31 a survival of a time when the military followers of conquering invaders or local chiefs married women of the local land-owning classes, and the most important male members of the family were usually absent in camp or at court, while the women remained at the family house on the estate, and managed the farms. The titles and the pattams or dignities have always been held by the male members, but, as they also go with the landed property, they necessarily devolve on the sister’s son of a deceased holder, whence has arisen the name aliya santāna, which means sister’s son lineage. A story is embodied in local traditions, attributing the origin of the system to the fiat of a king named Bhūtal Pāndya, until whose time makkala santāna, [153]or inheritance from father to son, generally obtained. “It is said that the maternal uncle of this prince, called Dēva Pāndya, wanted to launch his newly constructed ships with valuable cargo in them, when Kundodara, king of demons demanded a human sacrifice. Dēva Pāndya asked his wife’s permission to offer one of his sons, but she refused, while his sister Satyavati offered her son Jaya Pāndya for the purpose. Kundodara, discovering in the child signs of future greatness, waived the sacrifice, and permitted the ships to sail. He then took the child, restored to him his father’s kingdom of Jayantika, and gave him the name of Bhūtal Pāndya. Subsequently, when some of the ships brought immense wealth, the demon again appeared, and demanded of Dēva Pāndya another human sacrifice. On the latter again consulting his wife, she refused to comply with the request, and publicly renounced her title and that of her children to the valuable property brought in the ships. Kundodara then demanded the Dēva Pāndya to disinherit his sons of the wealth which had been brought in the ships, as also of the kingdom, and to bestow all on his sister’s son, Jaya or Bhūtal Pāndya. This was accordingly done. And, as this prince inherited his kingdom from his maternal uncle and not from his father, he ruled that his own example should be followed by his subjects, and it was thus that the aliya santāna law was established about A.D. 77.”32

It is noted by Mr. L. Moore33 that various judicial decisions relating to the aliya santāna system are based to a great extent on a book termed Aliya Santanada Kattu Kattale, which was alleged to be the work of Bhutala Pāndiya, who, according to Dr. Whitley Stokes, [154]the learned scholar who edited the first volume of the Madras High Court Reports, lived about A.D. 78, but which is in reality a very recent forgery compiled about 1840. As to this, Dr. A. C. Burnell observes as follows in a note in his law of partition and succession. “One patent imposture yet accepted by the Courts as evidence is the Aliya Santanada Kattu Kattale, a falsified account of the customs of South Canara. Silly as many Indian books are, a more childish or foolish tract it would be impossible to discover; it is about as much worthy of notice in a law court as ‘Jack the Giant Killer.’ That it is a recent forgery is certain.... The origin of the book in its present state is well-known; it is satisfactorily traced to two notorious forgers and scoundrels about thirty years ago, and all copies have been made from the one they produced. I have enquired in vain for an old manuscript, and am informed, on the best authority, that not one exists. A number of recent manuscripts are to be found, but they all differ essentially one from another. A more clumsy imposture it would be hard to find, but it has proved a mischievous one in South Canara, and threatens to render a large amount of property quite valueless. The forgers knew the people they had to deal with, the Bants, and, by inserting a course that families which did not follow the Aliya Santāna shall become extinct, have effectually prevented an application for legislative interference, though the poor superstitious folk would willingly (it is said) have the custom abolished.”34

As a custom similar to aliya santāna prevails in Malabar, it no doubt originated before Tuluva and Kērala [155]were separated. The small body of Parivāra Bants, and the few Jain Bants that do not follow the aliya santāna system, are probably the descendants of a few families who allowed their religious conversion to Hinduism or Jainism to have more effect on their social relations than was commonly the case. Now that the ideas regarding marriage among the Bants are in practice assimilated to a great extent to those of most other people, the national rule of inheritance is a cause of much heart-burning and quarrelling, fathers always endeavouring to benefit their own offspring at the cost of the estate. A change would be gladly welcomed by many, but vested interests in property constitute an almost insuperable obstacle.

The Bants do not usually object to the use of animal food, except, of course, the flesh of the cow, and they do not as a rule wear the sacred thread. But there are some families of position called Ballāls, amongst whom heads of families abstain from animal food, and wear the sacred thread. These neither eat nor intermarry with the ordinary Bants. The origin of the Ballāls is explained by a proverb, which says that when a Bant becomes powerful, he becomes a Ballāl. Those who have the dignity called Pattam, and the heads of certain families, known as Shettivalas or Heggades, also wear the sacred thread, and are usually managers or mukhtesars of the temples and bhūtasthāns or demon shrines within the area over which, in former days, they are said to have exercised a more extended jurisdiction, dealing not only with caste disputes, but settling numerous civil and criminal matters. The Jain Bants are strict vegetarians, and they abstain from the use of alcoholic liquors, the consumption of which is permitted among other Bants, though the practice is not common. The Jain Bants avoid taking food after sunset. [156]

The more well-to-do Bants usually occupy substantial houses on their estates, in many of which there is much fine wood-work, and, in some cases, the pillars of the porches and verandahs, and the doorways are artistically and elaborately carved. These houses have been described as being well built, thatched with palm, and generally prettily situated with beautiful scenic prospects stretching away on all sides.

The Bants have not as a rule largely availed themselves of European education, and consequently there are but few of them in the Government service, but among these few some have attained to high office, and been much respected. As is often the case among high spirited people of primitive modes of thought, party and faction feeling run high, and jealousy and disputes about landed property often lead to hasty acts of violence. Now-a-days, however, the last class of disputes more frequently lead to protracted litigation in the Courts.

Kambla Buffalo Race.

Kambla Buffalo Race.

The Bants are fond of out-door sports, football and buffalo-racing being amongst their favourite amusements. But the most popular of all is cock-fighting. Every Bant, who is not a Jain, takes an interest in this sport, and large assemblages of cocks are found at every fair and festival throughout South Canara. “The outsider,” it has been said,35 “cannot fail to be struck with the tremendous excitement that attends a village fair in South Canara. Large numbers of cocks are displayed for sale, and groups of excited people may be seen huddled together, bending down with intense eagerness to watch every detail in the progress of a combat between two celebrated village game-cocks.” Cock fights on an elaborate scale take place on the day after the [157]Dīpāvali, Sankaranthi or Vinayakachathurthi, and Gokalāshtami festivals, outside the village boundary. At Hiriadaka, in October, 1907, more than a hundred birds were tethered by the leg to the scrub jungle composed of the evergreen shrub Ixora coccinea, or carried in the arms of their owners or youngsters. Only males, from the town and surrounding villages, were witnesses of the spectacle. The tethered birds, if within range of each other, excited by the constant crowing and turmoil, indulged in an impromptu fight. Grains of rice and water were poured into the mouths and over the heads of the birds before the fight, and after each round. The birds were armed with cunningly devised steel spurs, constituting a battery of variously curved and sinuous weapons. It is believed that the Bhūta (demon) is appeased, if the blood from the wounds drops on the ground. The men, whose duty it is to separate the birds at the end of a round, sometimes receive nasty wounds from the spurs. The tail feathers of a wounded bird are lifted up, and a palm leaf fan or towel is waved to and fro over the cloacal orifice to revive it. The owner of a victorious bird becomes the possessor of the vanquished bird, dead or alive. At an exhibition of the products of South Canara, during a recent visit of the Governor of Madras to Mangalore, a collection of spurs was exhibited in the class “household implements.”

Kambla Racing Buffaloes.

Kambla Racing Buffaloes.

For the following note on buffalo races, I am indebted to Mr. H. O. D. Harding. “This is a sport that has grown up among a race of cultivators of wet land. It is, I believe, peculiar to South Canara, where all the cultivation worth mentioning is wet. The Bants and Jains, and other landowners of position, own and run buffaloes, and the Billava, or toddy drawer, has also entered the racing world. Every rich Bant keeps his [158]kambla field consecrated to buffalo-racing, and his pair of racing buffaloes, costing from Rs. 150 to Rs. 500, are splendid animals; and, except for an occasional plough-drawing at the beginning of the cultivation season, are used for no purpose all the year, except racing. The racing is for no prize or stakes, and there is no betting, starter, judge, or winning post. Each pair of buffaloes runs the course alone, and is judged by the assembled crowd for pace and style, and, most important of all, the height and breadth of the splash which they make. Most people know the common levelling plank used by the ryots (cultivators) all over India to level the wet field after ploughing. It is a plank some 4 or 5 feet long by 1 or 1½ feet broad, and on it the driver stands to give it weight, and the buffaloes pull it over the mud of a flooded rice-field. This is the prototype of the buffalo-racing car, and any day during the cultivating season in the Tulu country one may see two boys racing for the love of the sport, as they drive their levelling boards. From this the racing car has been specialised, and, if a work of art for its own purpose, is not a car on which any one could or would wish to travel far. The leveller of utility is cut down to a plank about 1½ by 1 foot, sometimes handsomely carved, on which is fixed a gaily decorated wooden stool about 6 inches high and 10 inches across each way, hollowed out on the top, and just big enough to afford good standing for one foot. In the plank, on each side, are holes to let the mud and water through. The plank is fixed to a pole, which is tied to the buffalo’s yoke. The buffaloes are decorated with coloured jhūls and marvellous head-pieces of brass and silver (sometimes bearing the emblems of the sun and moon), and ropes which make a sort of bridle. The driver, stripping himself to the necessary minimum of [159]garments, mounts, while some of his friends cling, like ants struggling round a dead beetle, to the buffaloes. When he is fairly up, they let go, and the animals start. The course is a wet rice-field, about 150 yards long, full of mud and water. All round are hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people, including Pariahs who dance in groups in the mud, play stick-game, and beat drums. In front of the galloping buffaloes the water is clear and still, throwing a powerful reflection of them as they gallop down the course, raising a perfect tornado of mud and water. The driver stands with one foot on the stool, and one on the pole of the car. He holds a whip aloft in one hand, and one of the buffaloes’ tails in the other. He drives without reins, with nothing but a waggling tail to hold on to and steer by. Opening his mouth wide, he shouts for all he is worth, while, to all appearances, a deluge of mud and water goes down his throat. So he comes down the course, the plank on which he stands throwing up a sort of Prince of Wales’ feathers of mud and water round him. The stance on the plank is no easy matter, and not a few men come to grief, but it is soft falling in the slush. Marks are given for pace, style, sticking to the plank, and throwing up the biggest and widest splash. Sometimes a kind of gallows, perhaps twenty feet high, is erected on the course, and there is a round of applause if the splash reaches up to or above it. Sometimes the buffaloes bolt, scatter the crowd, and get away into the young rice. At the end of the course, the driver jumps off with a parting smack at his buffaloes, which run up the slope of the field, and stop of themselves in what may be called the paddock. At a big meeting perhaps a hundred pairs, brought from all over the Tulu country, will compete, and the big men always send their [160]buffaloes to the races headed by the local band. The roads are alive with horns and tom-toms for several days. The proceedings commence with a procession, which is not infrequently headed by a couple of painted dolls in an attitude suggestive of that reproductiveness, which the races really give thanks for. They are a sort of harvest festival, before the second or sugge crop is sown, and are usually held in October and November. Devils must be propitiated, and the meeting opens with a devil dance. A painted, grass-crowned devil dancer, riding a hobby-horse, proceeds with music round the kambla field. Then comes the buffalo procession, and the races commence. At a big meeting near Mangalore, the two leading devil dancers were dressed up in masks, and coat and trousers of blue mission cloth, and one had the genitalia represented by a long piece of blue cloth tipped with red, and enormous testes. Buffaloes, young and old, trained and untrained, compete, some without the plank attached to them, and others with planks but without drivers. Accidents sometimes happen, owing to the animals breaking away among the crowd. On one occasion, a man who was in front of a pair of buffaloes which were just about to start failed to jump clear of them. Catching hold of the yoke, he hung on to it by his hands, and was carried right down the course, and was landed safely at the other end. If he had dropped, he would have fallen among four pairs of hoofs, not to mention the planks, and would probably have been brained. It is often a case of owners up, and the sons and nephews of big Bants, worth perhaps Rs. 10,000 a year, drive the teams.”

To the above account, I may add a few notes made at a buffalo race-meeting near Udipi, at which I was present. Each group of buffaloes, as they went up the track to [161]the starting-point, was preceded by the Koraga band playing on drum, fife and cymbals, Holeyas armed with staves and dancing, and a man holding a flag (nishāni). Sometimes, in addition to the flag, there is a pakkē or spear on the end of a bamboo covered with strips of cloth, or a makara torana, i.e., festooned cloths between two bamboos. The two last are permitted only if the buffaloes belong to a Bant or Brāhman, not if they are the property of a Billava. At the end of the races, the Ballāla chief, in whose field they had taken place, retired in procession, headed by a man carrying his banner, which, during the races, had been floating on the top of a long bamboo pole at the far end of the track. He was followed by the Koraga band, and the Holeyas attached to him, armed with clubs, and dancing a step dance amid discordant noises. Two Nalkes (devil-dancers), dressed up in their professional garb, and a torch-bearer also joined in the procession, in the rear of which came the Ballāla beneath a decorated umbrella. In every village there are rākshasas (demons), called Kambla-asura, who preside over the fields. The races are held to propitiate them, and, if they are omitted, it is believed that there will be a failure of the crop. According to some, Kambla-asura is the brother of Mahēshasura, the buffalo-headed giant, from whom Mysore receives its name. The Koragas sit up through the night before the Kambla day, performing a ceremony called panikkuluni, or sitting under the dew. They sing songs to the accompaniment of the band, about their devil Nīcha, and offer toddy and a rice-pudding boiled in a large earthen pot, which is broken so that the pudding remains as a solid mass. This pudding is called kandēl addē, or pot pudding. On the morning of the races, the Holeyas scatter manure over the field, and [162]plough it. On the following day, the seedlings are planted, without, as in ordinary cases, any ploughing. To propitiate various devils, the days following the races are devoted to cock-fighting. The Kamblas, in different places, have various names derived from the village deity, the chief village devil, or the village itself, e.g., Janardhana Dēvara, Daivala, or Udiyavar. The young men, who have the management of the buffaloes, are called Bannangayi Gurikara (half-ripe cocoanut masters) as they have the right of taking tender cocoanuts, as well as beaten rice to give them physical strength, without the special permission of their landlord. At the village of Vandar, the races take place in a dry field, which has been ploughed, and beaten to break up the clods of earth. For this reason they are called podi (powder) Kambla.

A pair of buffaloes, belonging to the field in which the races take place, should enter the field first, and a breach of this observance leads to discussion and quarrels. On one occasion, a dispute arose between two Bants in connection with the question of precedence. One of them brought his own pair of buffaloes, and the other a borrowed pair. If the latter had brought his own animals, he would have had precedence over the former. But, as his animals were borrowed, precedence was given to the man who brought his own buffaloes. This led to a dispute, and the races were not commenced until the delicate point at issue was decided. In some places, a long pole, called pūkāre, decorated with flags, flowers, and festoons of leaves, is set up in the Kambla field, sometimes on a platform. Billavas are in charge of this pole, which is worshipped, throughout the races, and others may not touch it.

Fines inflicted by the Bant caste council are, I am informed, spent in the celebration of a temple festival. [163]In former days, those found guilty by the council were beaten with tamarind switches, made to stand exposed to the sun, or big red ants were thrown over their bodies. Sometimes, to establish the innocence of an accused person, he had to take a piece of red-hot iron (axe, etc.) in his hand, and give it to his accuser.

At a puberty ceremony among some Bants the girl sits in the courtyard of her house on five unhusked cocoanuts covered with the bamboo cylinder which is used for storing paddy. Women place four pots filled with water, and containing betel leaves and nuts, round the girl, and empty the contents over her head. She is then secluded in an outhouse. The women are entertained with a feast, which must include fowl and fish curry. The cocoanuts are given to a washerwoman. On the fourth day, the girl is bathed, and received back at the house. Beaten rice, and rice flour mixed with jaggery (crude sugar) are served out to those assembled. The girl is kept gōsha (secluded) for a time, and fed up with generous diet.

Under the aliya santāna system of inheritance, the High Court has ruled that there is no marriage within the meaning of the Penal Code. But, though divorce and remarriage are permitted to women, there are formal rules and ceremonies observed in connection with them, and amongst the well-to-do classes divorce is not looked upon as respectable, and is not frequent. The fictitious marriage prevailing amongst the Nāyars is unknown among the Bants, and a wife also usually leaves the family house, and resides at her husband’s, unless she occupies so senior a position in her own family as to make it desirable that she should live on the family estate.

The Bants are divided into a number of balis (exogamous septs), which are traced in the female line, [164]i.e., a boy belongs to his mother’s, not to his father’s bali. Children belonging to the same bali cannot marry, and the prohibition extends to certain allied (koodu) balis. Moreover, a man cannot marry his father’s brother’s daughter, though she belongs to a different bali. In a memorandum by Mr. M. Mundappa Bangera,36 it is stated that “bali in aliya santāna families corresponds to gōtra of the Brāhmins governed by Hindu law, but differs in that it is derived from the mother’s side, whereas gōtra is always derived from the father’s side. A marriage between a boy and girl belonging to the same bali is considered incestuous, as falling within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity. It is not at all difficult to find out the bali to which a man or woman belongs, as one can scarcely be found who does not know one’s own bali by rote. And the heads of caste, who preside at every wedding party, and who are also consulted by the elders of the boy or girl before an alliance is formed, are such experts in these matters that they decide at once without reference to any books or rules whether intermarriages between persons brought before them can be lawfully performed or not.” As examples of balis among the Bants, the following may be cited:—

  • Bellathannaya, jaggery.
  • Bhūthiannaya, ashes.
  • Chāliannaya, weaver.
  • Edinnaya, hornet’s nest.
  • Karkadabennai, scorpion.
  • Kayerthannaya (Strychnos Nux-vomica).
  • Kochattabannayya, or Kajjarannayya, jack tree (Artocarpus integrifolia).
  • Koriannaya, fowl.
  • Pathanchithannaya, green peas.
  • Perugadannaya, bandicoot rat.
  • Poyilethannaya, one who removes the evil eye.
  • Puliattannaya, tiger.
  • Rāgithannaya, rāgi (Eleusine Coracana).


Infant marriage is not prohibited, but is not common, and both men and girls are usually married after they have reached maturity. There are two forms of marriage, one called kai dhāre for marriages between virgins and bachelors, the other called budu dhāre for the marriage of widows. After a match has been arranged, the formal betrothal, called ponnapāthera or nischaya tambula, takes place. The bridegroom’s relatives and friends proceed in a body on the appointed day to the bride’s house, and are there entertained at a grand dinner, to which the bride’s relatives and friends are also bidden. Subsequently the karnavans (heads) of the two families formally engage to perform the marriage, and plates of betel leaves and areca nuts are exchanged, and the betel and nuts partaken of by the two parties. The actual marriage ceremony is performed at the house of the bride or bridegroom, as may be most convenient. The proceedings commence with the bridegroom seating himself in the marriage pandal, a booth or canopy specially erected for the occasion. He is there shaved by the village barber, and then retires and bathes. This done, both he and the bride are conducted to the pandal by their relations, or sometimes by the village headman. They walk thrice round the seat, and then sit down side by side. The essential and binding part of the ceremony, called dhāre, then takes place. The right hand of the bride being placed over the right hand of the bridegroom, a silver vessel (dhāre gindi) filled with water, with a cocoanut over the mouth and the flower of the areca palm on the cocoanut, is placed on the joined hands. The parents, the managers of the two families, and the village headmen all touch the vessel, which, with the hands of the bridal pair, is moved up and down three times. In certain families the water is poured from the [166]vessel into the united hands of the couple, and this betokens the gift of the bride. This form of gift by pouring water was formerly common, and was not confined to the gift of a bride. It still survives in the marriage ceremonies of various castes, and the name of the Bant ceremony shows that it must once have been universal among them. The bride and bridegroom then receive the congratulations of the guests, who express a hope that the happy couple may become the parents of twelve sons and twelve daughters. An empty plate, and another containing rice, are next placed before the pair, and their friends sprinkle them with rice from the one, and place a small gift, generally four annas, in the other. The bridegroom then makes a gift to the bride. This is called sirdachi, and varies in amount according to the position of the parties. This must be returned to the husband, if his wife leaves him, or if she is divorced for misconduct. The bride is then taken back in procession to her home. A few days later she is again taken to the bridegroom’s house, and must serve her husband with food. He makes another money present to her, and after that the marriage is consummated.

According to another account of the marriage ceremony among some Bants, the barber shaves the bridegroom’s face, using cow’s milk instead of water, and touches the bride’s forehead with razor. The bride and bridegroom bathe, and dress up in new clothes. A plank covered with a newly-washed cloth supplied by a washerman, a tray containing raw rice, a lighted lamp, betel leaves and areca nuts, etc., are placed in the pandal. A girl carries a tray on which are placed a lighted lamp, a measure full of raw rice, and betel. She is followed by the bridegroom conducted by her brother, and the bride, led by the bridegroom’s sister. They enter [167]the pandal and, after going round the articles contained therein five times, sit down on the plank. An elderly woman, belonging to the family of the caste headman, brings a tray containing rice, and places it in front of the couple, over whom she sprinkles a little of the rice. The assembled men and women then place presents of money on the tray, and sprinkle rice over the couple. The right hand of the bride is held by the headman, and her uncle, and laid in that of the bridegroom. A cocoanut is placed over the mouth of a vessel, which is decorated with mango leaves and flowers of the areca palm. The headman and male relations of the bride place this vessel thrice in the hands of the bridal couple. The vessel is subsequently emptied at the foot of a cocoanut tree.

The foregoing account shows that the Bant marriage is a good deal more than concubinage. It is indeed as formal a marriage as is to be found among any people in the world, and the freedom of divorce which is allowed cannot deprive it of its essential character. Widows are married with much less formality. The ceremony consists simply of joining the hands of the couple, but, strange to say, a screen is placed between them. All widows are allowed to marry again, but it is, as a rule, only the young women who actually do so. If a widow becomes pregnant, she must marry or suffer loss of caste.

The Bants all burn their dead, except in the case of children under seven, and those who have died of leprosy or of epidemic disease such as cholera or small-pox. The funeral pile must consist at least partly of mango wood. On the ninth, eleventh or thirteenth day, people are fed in large numbers, but the Jains now substitute for this a distribution of cocoanuts on the third, fifth, [168]seventh, or ninth day. Once a year—generally in October—a ceremony called agelū is performed for the propitiation of ancestors.

From a detailed account of the Bant death ceremonies, I gather that the news of a death is conveyed to the caste people by a Holeya. A carpenter, accompanied by musicians, proceeds to cut down a mango tree for the funeral pyre. The body is bathed, and laid out on a plank. Clad in new clothes, it is conveyed with music to the burning-ground. A barber carries thither a pot containing fire. The corpse is set down near the pyre and divested of the new clothes, which are distributed between a barber, washerman, carpenter, a Billava and Holeya. The pyre is kindled by a Billava, and the mat on which the corpse has been lying is thrown thereon by a son or nephew of the deceased. On the third day the relations go to the burning-ground, and a barber and washerman sprinkle water over the ashes. Some days later, the caste people are invited to attend, and a barber, washerman, and carpenter build up on the spot where the corpse was burnt a lofty structure, made of bamboo and areca palm, in an odd number of tiers, and supported on an odd number of posts. It is decorated with cloths, fruits, tender cocoanuts, sugarcane, flowers, mango leaves, areca palm flowers, etc., and a fence is set up round it. The sons and other relations of the deceased carry to the burning-ground three balls of cooked rice (pinda) dyed with turmeric and tied up in a cloth, some raw rice dyed with turmeric, pieces of green plantain fruit, and pumpkin and a cocoanut. They go thrice round the structure, carrying the various articles in trays on their heads, and deposit them therein. The relations then throw a little of the coloured rice into the structure, and one of the caste [169]men sprinkles water contained in a mango leaf over their hands. After bathing, they return home. The clothes, jewels, etc., of the deceased are laid on a cloth spread inside the house. A piece of turmeric is suspended from the ceiling by a string, and a tray containing water coloured yellow placed beneath it. Round this the females seat themselves. A cocoanut is broken, and a barber sprinkles the water thereof contained in a mango leaf over those assembled. On the following day, various kinds of food are prepared, and placed on leaves, with a piece of new cloth, within a room of the house. The cloth remains there for a year, when it is renewed. The renewal continues until another death occurs in the family.

In the following table, the cephalic index of the Bants is compared with that of the Billavas and Shivalli Brāhmans:—

Average. Maximum. Minimum.
Brahman 80.4 96.4 72
Billava 80.1 91.5 71
Bant 78 91.2 70.8

The headman among the Bants is generally called Guttinayya, meaning person of the guttu or site. Every village, or group of villages, possesses a guttu, and the Bant who occupies, or holds in possession the house or site set apart as the guttu is the Guttinayya. When this passes to another by sale or inheritance, the office of headman passes with it. It is said that, in some instances, the headmanship has in this way passed to classes other than Bants, e.g., Brāhmans and Jains. In some villages, the headman is, as among some other castes, called Gurikāra, whose appointment is hereditary. [170]

A few supplementary notes may be added on the Parivara, Nād, and Māsādika Bants. The Parivaras are confined to the southern taluks of the South Canara district. They may interdine, but may not intermarry with the other section. The rule of inheritance is makkalakattu (in the male line). Brāhman priests are engaged for the various ceremonials, so the Parivaras are more Brāhmanised than the Nād or Māsādika Bants. The Parivaras may resort to the wells used by Brāhmans, and they consequently claim superiority over the other sections. Among the Nād Bants, no marriage badge is tied on the neck of the bride. At a Parivara marriage, after the dhāre ceremony, the bridegroom ties a gold bead, called dhāre mani, on the neck of the bride. The remarriage of widows is not in vogue. In connection with the death ceremonies, a car is not, as among the Nād and Māsādika sections, set up over the mound (dhūpe). On the eleventh day, the spreading of a cloth on the mound for offerings of food must be done by Nekkāras, who wash clothes for Billavas.

The Nād or Nādava and Māsādika Bants follow the aliya santāna law of succession, and intermarriage is permitted between the two sections. The names of the balis, which have already been given, are common among the Māsādikas, and do not apply to the Nāds, among whom different sept names occur, e.g., Honne, Shetti, Koudichi, etc. Elaborate death ceremonies are only performed if the deceased was old, or a respected member of the community. The corpse is generally cremated in one of the rice-fields belonging to the family. After the funeral, the male members of the family return home, and place a vessel containing water and light in a room. One or two women must [171]remain in this room, and the light must be kept burning until the bojja, or final death ceremonies, are over. The water in the vessel must be renewed twice daily. At the final ceremonies, a feast is given to the castemen, and in some places, the headman insists on the people of the house of mourning giving him a jewel as a pledge that the bojja will be performed on the ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth day. The headman visits the house on the previous day, and, after examination of the provisions, helps in cutting up vegetables, etc. On the bojja day, copper and silver coins, and small pieces of gold, are buried or sown in the field in which the ceremony is performed. This is called hanabiththodu. The lofty structure, called gurigi or upparige, is set up over the dhūpe or ashes heaped up into a mound, or in the field in which the body was cremated, only in the event of the deceased being a person of importance. In some places, two kinds of structure are used, one called gurigi, composed of several tiers, for males, and the other called dēlagūdu, consisting of a single tier, for females. Devil-dancers are engaged, and the commonest kōla performed by them is the eru kōla, or man and hobby-horse. In the room containing the vessel of water, four sticks are planted in the ground, and tied together. Over the sticks a cloth is placed, and the vessel of water placed beneath it. A bit of string is tied to the ceiling, and a piece of turmeric or a gold ring is attached to the end of it, and suspended so as to touch the water in the vessel. This is called nīr neralu (shadow in water), and seems to be a custom among various Tulu castes. After the bojja ceremony, all those who are under death pollution stand in two rows. A Madavali (washerman) touches them with a [172]cloth, and a Kēlasi (barber) sprinkles water over them. In this manner, they are freed from pollution.

The most common title among the Bants is Chetti or Setti, but many others occur, e.g., Heggade, Nāyaka, Bangēra, Rai, Ballālaru, etc.

Bārang Jhodia.—A sub-division of Poroja.

Bardēshkar (people of twelve countries).—Some families among Konkani Brāhmans go by this name.

Bāriki.—Bāriki is the name for village watchmen in Southern Ganjam, whose duty it further is to guide the traveller on the march from place to place. In the Bellary Manual, Bārika is given as the name for Canarese Kabbēras, who are village servants, who keep the village chāvadi (caste meeting-house) clean, look after the wants of officials halting in the village, and perform various other duties. In the Census Report, 1901, the Bārikas are said to be usually Bōyas. The Bārika of Mysore is defined by Mr. L. Rice as37 “a menial among the village servants; a deputy talāri, who is employed to watch the crops from the growing crop to the granary.”

It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that “in the middle of the threshold of nearly all the gateways of the ruined fortifications round the Bellary villages will be noticed a roughly cylindrical or conical stone, something like a lingam. This is the boddu-rāyi, literally the navel stone, and so the middle stone. It was planted there when the fort was built, and is affectionately regarded as being the boundary of the village site. Once a year, in May, just before the sowing season begins, a ceremony takes place in connection with it. Reverence is first made to the bullocks [173]of the village, and in the evening they are driven through the gateway past the boddu-rāyi with tom-toms, flutes, and all kinds of music. The Bārike next does pūja (worship) to the stone, and then a string of mango leaves is tied across the gateway above it. The villagers now form sides, one party trying to drive the bullocks through the gate, and the other trying to keep them out. The greatest uproar and confusion naturally follow, and, in the midst of the turmoil, some bullock or other eventually breaks through the guardians of the gate, and gains the village. If that first bullock is a red one, the red grains on the red soils will flourish in the coming season. If he is white, white crops like cotton and white cholam will prosper. If he is red-and-white, both kinds will do well. When the rains fail, and, in any case, on the first full moon in September, rude human figures drawn on the ground with powdered charcoal may be seen at cross-roads and along big thoroughfares. They represent Jōkumāra the rain-god, and are made by the Bārikes—a class of village servants, who are usually of the Gaurimakkalu sub-division of the Kabbēras. The villagers give the artists some small remuneration, and believe that luck comes to those who pass over the figures.”

Bārike.—A title of Gaudos and other Oriya castes.

Barrellu (buffaloes).—An exogamous sept of Kāpu.

Bāsala.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as Telugu beggars and soothsayers in Vizagapatam. The word is apparently a corruption of Bāsa-vālu, a sage. The Bāsa-vālu pretend to be messengers of Indra, the chief of the Dēvatas, and prognosticate coming events.

Basari (fig tree).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Bāsava Golla.—A name for certain Koyis of the Godāvari district, whose grandfathers had a quarrel with [174]some of their neighbours, and separated from them. The name Bāsava is said to be derived from bhāsha, a language, as these Koyis speak a different language from the true Gollas.38 In like manner, Bāsa Kondhs are those who speak their proper language, in contradistinction to those who speak Oriya, or Oriya mixed with Kui.

Basavi.—See Dēva-dāsi.

Basiya Korono.—A sub-division of Korono.

Basruvōgaru (basru, belly).—An exogamous sept of Gauda.

Baththāla (rice).—An exogamous sept of Kamma.

Batlu (cup).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Bauri.—There are found in the Madras Presidency nomad gangs of Bauris or Bāwariyas, who are described39 as “one of the worst criminal tribes of India. The sphere of their operations extends throughout the length and breadth of the country. They not only commit robberies, burglaries and thefts, but also practice the art of manufacturing and passing counterfeit coin. They keep with them a small quantity of wheat and sandal seeds in a small tin or brass case, which they call Dēvakadana or God’s grain, and a tuft of peacock’s feathers, all in a bundle. They are very superstitious, and do not embark on any enterprise without first ascertaining by omens whether it will be attended with success or not. This they do by taking at random a small quantity of grains out of their Dēvakadana and counting the number of grains, the omen being considered good or bad according as the number of seeds is odd or even. For a detailed record of the history of [175]this criminal class, and the methods employed in the performance of criminal acts, I would refer the reader to the accounts given by Mr. Paupa Rao40 and Mr. W. Crooke.41

Bāvāji.—The Bāvājis are Bairāgi or Gosāyi beggars, who travel about the country. They are known by various names, e.g., Bairāgi, Sādu, etc.

Bāvuri.—The Bāvuris, or Bauris, are a low class of Oriya basket-makers, living in Ganjam, and are more familiarly known as Khodālo. They are a polluting class, living in separate quarters, and occupy a position lower than the Sāmantiyas, but higher than the Kondras, Dandāsis, and Haddis. They claim that palanquin (dhooly or dūli) bearing is their traditional occupation, and consequently call themselves Bōyi. “According to one story,” Risley writes,42 “they were degraded for attempting to steal food from the banquet of the gods; another professes to trace them back to a mythical ancestor named Bāhak Rishi (the bearer of burdens), and tells how, while returning from a marriage procession, they sold the palanquin they had been hired to carry, got drunk on the proceeds, and assaulted their guru (religious preceptor), who cursed them for the sacrilege, and condemned them to rank thenceforward among the lowest castes of the community.” The Bāvuris are apparently divided into two endogamous sections, viz., Dulia and Khandi. The former regard themselves as superior to the latter, and prefer to be called Khodālo. Some of these have given up eating beef, call themselves Dāsa Khodālos, and claim descent from one [176]Balliga Doss, a famous Bāvuri devotee, who is said to have worked wonders, analogous to those of Nandan of the Paraiyan community. To this section the caste priests belong. At Russelkonda, a woman, when asked if she was a Bāvuri, replied that the caste is so called by others, but that its real name is Khodālo. Others, in reply to a question whether they belonged to the Khandi section, became angry, and said that the Khandis are inferior, because they eat frogs.

The Bāvuris gave the name of two gōtras, saptha bhavunia and nāga, which are said to be exogamous. The former offer food to the gods on seven leaves of the white gourd melon, Benincasa cerifera (kokkara), and the latter on jak (Artocarpus integrifolia: panasa) leaves. All over the Oriya country there is a general belief that house-names or bamsams are foreign to the Oriya castes, and only possessed by the Telugus. But some genuine Oriya castes, e.g., Haddis, Dandāsis and Bhondāris, have exogamous bamsams.

For every group of villages (muttah), the Bāvuris apparently have a headman called Bēhara, who is assisted by Naikos or Dolo Bēharas, or, in some places, Dondias or Porichas, who hold sway over a smaller number of villages. Each village has its own headman, called Bhollobhaya (good brother), to whose notice all irregularities are brought. These are either settled by himself, or referred to the Bēhara and Naiko. In some villages, in addition to the Bhollobhaya, there is a caste servant called Dangua or Dogara. For serious offences, a council-meeting is convened by the Bēhara, and attended by the Bhollobhayas, Naikos, and a few leading members of the community. The meeting is held in an open plain outside the village. Once in two or [177]three years, a council-meeting, called mondolo, is held, at which various matters are discussed, and decided. The expenses of meetings are defrayed by the inhabitants of the villages in which they take place. Among the most important matters to be decided by tribunals are adultery, eating with lower castes, the re-admission of convicts into the caste, etc. Punishment takes the form of a fine, and trial by ordeal is apparently not resorted to. A man, who is convicted of committing adultery, or eating with a member of a lower caste, is received back into the caste on payment of the fine. A woman, who has been proved guilty of such offences, is not so taken back. It is said that, when a member of a higher caste commits adultery with a Bāvuri woman, he is sometimes received into the Bāvuri caste. The Bēhara receives a small fee annually from each village or family, and also a small present of money for each marriage.

Girls are married either before or after puberty. A man may marry his maternal uncle’s, but not his paternal aunt’s daughter. At an adult marriage, the festivities last for four days, whereas, at an infant marriage, they are extended over seven days. When a young man’s parents have selected a girl for him, they consult a Brāhman, and, if he decides that the marriage will be auspicious, they proceed to the girl’s home, and ask that a day be fixed for the betrothal. On the appointed day the amount of money, which is to be paid by the bridegroom-elect for jewels, etc., is fixed. One or two new cloths must be given to the girl’s grandmother, and the man’s party must announce the number of feasts they intend to give to the castemen. If the family is poor, the feasts are mentioned, but do not actually take place. The marriage ceremony is always celebrated at night. On the evening of the day prior thereto, the bride and [178]bridegroom’s people proceed to the temple of the village goddess (Tākurāni), and, on their way home, go to seven houses of members of their own or some higher caste, and ask them to give them water, which is poured into a small vessel. This vessel is taken home, and hung over the bedi (marriage dais). The water is used by the bride and bridegroom on the following morning for bathing. On the marriage day, the bridegroom proceeds to the bride’s village, and is met on the way by her party, and escorted by his brother-in-law to the dais. The Bhollobhaya enquires whether the bride’s party have received everything as arranged, and, when he has been assured on this point, the bride is brought to the dais by her maternal uncle. She carries with her in her hands a little salt and rice; and, after throwing these over the bridegroom, she sits by his side. The grandfathers of the contracting couple, or a priest called Dhiyāni, officiate. Their palms are placed together, and the hands united by a string dyed with turmeric. The union of the hands is called hasthagonti, and is the binding portion of the ceremony. Turmeric water is poured over the hands seven times from a chank or sankha shell. Seven married women then throw over the heads of the couple a mixture of Zizyphus Jujuba (borkolipathro) leaves, rice smeared with turmeric, and Cynodon Dactylon (dhūba) culms. This rite is called bhondaivaro, and is performed at all auspicious ceremonies. The fingers of the bride and bridegroom are then linked together, and they are led by the wife of the bride’s brother seven times round the bedi. The priest then proclaims that the soot can soon be wiped off the cooking-pot, but the connection brought about by the marriage is enduring, and relationship is secured for seven generations. The pair are taken indoors, and fed. The [179]remaining days of the marriage ceremonies are given up to feasting. The remarriage of widows is permitted. A widow is expected to marry the younger brother of her deceased husband, or, with his permission, may marry whom she likes.

When a girl attains maturity, she is seated on a new mat, and Zizyphus Jujuba leaves are thrown over her. This ceremony is sometimes repeated daily for six days, during which sweets, etc., are given to the girl, and women who bring presents are fed. On the seventh day, the girl is taken to a tank (pond), and bathed.

The dead are either buried or burnt. The corpse is, at the funeral, borne in the hands, or on a bier, by four men. Soon after the village boundary has been crossed, the widow of the deceased throws rice over the eyes of the corpse, and also a little fire, after taking it three times round. She usually carries with her a pot and ladle, which she throws away. If an elderly woman dies, these rites are performed by her daughter-in-law. At the burial-ground, the corpse is taken seven times round the grave, and, as it is lowered into it, those present say “Oh! trees, Oh! sky, Oh! earth, we are laying him in. It is not our fault.” When the grave has been filled in, the figures of a man and woman are drawn on it, and all throw earth over it, saying “You were living with us; now you have left us. Do not trouble the people.” On their return home, the mourners sprinkle cowdung water about the house and over their feet, and toddy is partaken of. On the following day, all the old pots are thrown away, and the agnates eat rice cooked with margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves. Food is offered to the dead person, either at the burial-ground or in the backyard of the house. On the tenth day, the Dhiyani, [180]as the priest is called, is sent for, and arrives with his drum (dhiyani). A small hut is erected on a tank bund (embankment), and food cooked seven times, and offered seven times on seven fragments of pots. A new cloth is spread, and on it food, fruits, a chank shell, etc., are placed, and offered to the deceased. The various articles are put into a new pot, and the son, going into the water up to his neck, throws the pot into the air, and breaks it. The celebrants of the rite then return to the house, and stand in a row in front thereof. They are there purified by means of milk smeared over their hands by the Dhiyani. On the twelfth day, food is offered on twelve leaves.

The Bāvuris do not worship Jagannāthāswāmi, or other of the higher deities, but reverence their ancestors and the village goddesses or Tākurānis. Like other Oriya classes, the Bāvuris name their children on the twenty-first day. Opprobrious names are common among them, e.g., Ogādu (dirty fellow), Kangāli (wretched fellow), Haddia (Haddi, or sweeper caste).

Bēdar or Bōya.—“Throughout the hills,” Buchanan writes,43 “northward from Capaladurga, are many cultivated spots, in which, during Tippoo’s government, were settled many Baydaru or hunters, who received twelve pagodas (£4 5s.) a year, and served as irregular troops whenever required. Being accustomed to pursue tigers and deer in the woods, they were excellent marksmen with their match-locks, and indefatigable in following their prey; which, in the time of war, was the life and property of every helpless creature that came in their way. During the wars of Hyder and his son, these men were chief instruments in the terrible depredations [181]committed in the lower Carnatic. They were also frequently employed with success against the Poligars (feudal chiefs), whose followers were of a similar description.” In the Gazetteer of the Anantapur district it is noted that “the Bōyas are the old fighting caste of this part of the country, whose exploits are so often recounted in the history books. The Poligars’ forces, and Haidar Ali’s famous troops were largely recruited from these people, and they still retain a keen interest in sport and manly exercises.”

In his notes on the Bōyas, which Mr. N. E. Q. Mainwaring has kindly placed at my disposal, he writes as follows. “Although, until quite recently, many a Bōya served in the ranks of our Native army, being entered in the records thereof either under his caste title of Naidu, or under the heading of Gentu,44 which was largely used in old day military records, yet this congenial method of earning a livelihood has now been swept away by a Government order, which directs that in future no Telegas shall be enlisted into the Indian army. That the Bōyas were much prized as fighting men in the stirring times of the eighteenth century is spoken to in the contemporaneous history of Colonel Wilks.45 He speaks of the brave armies of the Poligars of Chitteldroog, who belonged to the Beder or Bōya race in the year 1755. Earlier, in 1750, Hyder Ali, who was then only a Naik in the service of the Mysore Rāja, used with great effect his select corps of Beder peons at the battle of Ginjee. Five years after this [182]battle, when Hyder was rising to great eminence, he augmented his Beder peons, and used them as scouts for the purpose of ascertaining the whereabouts of his enemies, and for poisoning with the juice of the milk-hedge (Euphorbia Tirucalli) all wells in use by them, or in their line of march. The historian characterises them as being ‘brave and faithful thieves.’ In 1751, the most select army of Morari Row of Gooty consisted chiefly of Beder peons, and the accounts of their deeds in the field, as well as their defence of Gooty fort, which only fell after the meanness of device had been resorted to, prove their bravery in times gone by beyond doubt. There are still a number of old weapons to be found amongst the Bōyas, consisting of swords, daggers, spears, and matchlocks. None appear to be purely Bōya weapons, but they seem to have assumed the weapons of either Muhammadans or Hindus, according to which race held sway at the time. In some districts, there are still Bōya Poligars, but, as a rule, they are poor, and unable to maintain any position. Generally, the Bōyas live at peace with their neighbours, occasionally only committing a grave dacoity (robbery).46

“In the Kurnool district, they have a bad name, and many are on the police records as habitual thieves and housebreakers. They seldom stoop to lesser offences. Some are carpenters, others blacksmiths who manufacture all sorts of agricultural implements. Some, again, are engaged as watchmen, and others make excellent snares for fish out of bamboo. But the majority of them are agriculturists, and most of them work on their own putta lands. They are now a hard-working, industrious people, who have become thrifty by dint of their industry, [183]and whose former predatory habits are being forgotten. Each village, or group of villages, submits to the authority of a headman, who is generally termed the Naidu, less commonly Dora as chieftain. In some parts of Kurnool, the headmen are called Simhasana Bōyas. The headman presides at all functions, and settles, with the assistance of the elders, any disputes that may arise in the community regarding division of property, adultery, and other matters. The headman has the power to inflict fines, the amount of which is regulated by the status and wealth of the defaulter. But it is always arranged that the penalty shall be sufficient to cover the expense of feeding the panchayatdars (members of council), and leave a little over to be divided between the injured party and the headman. In this way, the headman gets paid for his services, and practically fixes his own remuneration.”

It is stated in the Manual of the Bellary district that “of the various Hindu castes in Bellary, the Bōyas (called in Canarese Bēdars, Byēdas, or Byādās) are far the strongest numerically. Many of the Poligars whom Sir Thomas Munro found in virtual possession of the country when it was added to the Company belonged to this caste, and their irregular levies, and also a large proportion of Haidar’s formidable force, were of the same breed. Harpanahalli was the seat of one of the most powerful Poligars in the district in the eighteenth century. The founder of the family was a Bōya taliāri, who, on the subversion of the Vijayanagar dynasty, seized on two small districts near Harpanahalli. The Bōyas are perhaps the only people in the district who still retain any aptitude for manly sports. They are now for the most part cultivators and herdsmen or are engaged under Government as constables, peons, village watchmen [184](taliāris), and so forth. Their community provides an instructive example of the growth of caste sub-divisions. Both the Telugu-speaking Bōyas and the Canarese-speaking Bēdars are split into the two main divisions of Ūru or village men, and Myāsa or grass-land men, and each of these divisions is again sub-divided into a number of exogamous Bedagas. Four of the best known of these sub-divisions are Yemmalavaru or buffalo-men; Mandalavaru or men of the herd; Pūlavaru or flower-men, and Mīnalavaru or fish-men. They are in no way totemistic. Curiously enough, each Bedagu has its own particular god, to which its members pay special reverence. But these Bedagas bear the same names among both the Bōyas and the Bēdars, and also among both the Ūru and Myāsa divisions of both Bōyas and Bēdars. It thus seems clear that, at some distant period, all the Bōyas and all the Bēdars must have belonged to one homogeneous caste. At present, though Ūru Bōyas will marry with Ūru Bēdars and Myāsa Bōyas with Myāsa Bēdars, there is no intermarriage between Ūrus and Myāsas, whether they be Bōyas or Bēdars. Even if Ūrus and Myāsas dine together, they sit in different rows, each division by themselves. Again, the Ūrus (whether Bōyas or Bēdars) will eat chicken and drink alcohol, but the Myāsas will not touch a fowl or any form of strong drink, and are so strict in this last matter that they will not even sit on mats made of the leaf of the date-palm, the tree which in Bellary provides all the toddy. The Ūrus, moreover, celebrate their marriages with the ordinary ceremonial of the hālu-kamba or milk-post, and the surge, or bathing of the happy pair; the bride sits on a flour-grinding stone, and the bridegroom stands on a basket full of cholam (millet), and they call in Brāhmans to officiate. But the Myāsas have a simpler [185]ritual, which omits most of these points, and dispenses with the Brāhman. Other differences are that the Ūru women wear ravikkais or tight-fitting bodices, while the Myāsas tuck them under their waist-string. Both divisions eat beef, and both have a hereditary headman called the ejamān, and hereditary Dāsaris who act as their priests.”



In the Madras Census Report, 1901, it is stated that the two main divisions of Bōyas are called also Pedda (big) and Chinna (small) respectively, and, according to another account, the caste has four endogamous sections, Pedda, Chinna, Sadaru, and Myāsa. Sadaru is the name of a sub-division of Lingāyats, found mainly in the Bellary and Anantapur districts, where they are largely engaged in cultivation. Some Bēdars who live amidst those Lingāyats call themselves Sadaru. According to the Manual of the North Arcot district, the Bōyas are a “Telugu hunting caste, chiefly found above the ghāts. Many of the Poligars of that part of the country used to belong to the caste, and proved themselves so lawless that they were dispossessed. Now they are usually cultivators. They have several divisions, the chief of which are the Mulki Bōyas and the Pāla Bōyas, who cannot intermarry.” According to the Mysore Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, “the Bēdas have two distinct divisions, the Kannada and Telugu, and own some twenty sub-divisions, of which the following are the chief:—Hālu, Māchi or Myāsa, Nāyaka, Pallegar, Bārika, Kannaiyyanajāti, and Kirātaka. The Māchi or Myāsa Bēdas comprise a distinct sub-division, also called the Chunchus. They live mostly in hills, and outside inhabited places in temporary huts. Portions of their community had, it is alleged, been coerced into living in villages, with whose descendants the others [186]have kept up social intercourse. They do not, however, eat fowl or pork, but partake of beef; and the Myāsa Bēdas are the only Hindu class among whom the rite of circumcision is performed,47 on boys of ten or twelve years of age. These customs, so characteristic of the Mussalmans, seem to have been imbibed when the members of this sub-caste were included in the hordes of Haidar Ali. Simultaneously with the circumcision, other rites, such as the pānchagavyam, the burning of the tongue with a nīm (Melia Azadirachta) stick, etc. (customs pre-eminently Brahmanical), are likewise practised prior to the youth being received into communion. Among their other peculiar customs, the exclusion from their ordinary dwellings of women in child-bed and in periodical sickness, may be noted. The Myāsa Bēdas are said to scrupulously avoid liquor of every kind, and eat the flesh of only two kinds of birds, viz., gauja (grey partridge), and lavga (rock-bush quail).” Of circumcision among the Myāsa Bēdars it is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that they practise this rite round about Rayadrūg and Gudekōta. “These Myāsas seem quite proud of the custom, and scout with scorn the idea of marrying into any family in which it is not the rule. The rite is performed when a boy is seven or eight. A very small piece of the skin is cut off by a man of the caste, and the boy is then kept for eleven days in a separate hut, and touched by no one. His food is given him on a piece of stone. On the twelfth day he is bathed, given a new cloth, and brought back to the house, and his old cloth, and the stone on which his food was served, are thrown away. His relations in a body then take him to a tangēdu [187](Cassia auriculata) bush, to which are offered cocoanuts, flowers, and so forth, and which is worshipped by them and him. Girls on first attaining puberty are similarly kept for eleven days in a separate hut, and afterwards made to do worship to a tangēdu bush. This tree also receives reverence at funerals.”

The titles of the Bōyas are said to be Naidu or Nayudu, Naik, Dora, Dorabidda (children of chieftains), and Valmiki. They claim direct lineal descent from Valmiki, the author of the Rāmayana. At times of census in Mysore, some Bēdars have set themselves up as Valmiki Brāhmans. The origin of the Myāsa Bēdas is accounted for in the following story. A certain Bēdar woman had two sons, of whom the elder, after taking his food, went to work in the fields. The younger son, coming home, asked his mother to give him food, and she gave him only cholam (millet) and vegetables. While he was partaking thereof, he recognised the smell of meat, and was angry because his mother had given him none, and beat her to death. He then searched the house, and, on opening a pot from which the smell of meat emanated, found that it only contained the rotting fibre-yielding bark of some plant. Then, cursing his luck, he fled to the forest, where he remained, and became the forefather of the Myāsa Bēdars.

For the following note on the legendary origin of the Bēdars, I am indebted to Mr. Mainwaring. “Many stories are told of how they came into existence, each story bringing out the name which the particular group may be known by. Some call themselves Nishadulu, and claim to be the legitimate descendants of Nishadu. When the great Venudu, who was directly descended from Brahma, ruled over the universe, he was unable to procure a son and heir to the throne. When he died, his [188]death was regarded as an irreparable misfortune. In grief and doubt as to what was to be done, his body was preserved. The seven ruling planets, then sat in solemn conclave, and consulted together as to what they should do. Finally they agreed to create a being from the right thigh of the deceased Venudu, and they accordingly fashioned and gave life to Nishudu. But their work was not successful, for Nishudu turned out to be not only deformed in body, but repulsively ugly. It was accordingly agreed, at another meeting of the planets, that he was not a fit person to be placed on the throne. So they set to work again, and created a being from the right shoulder of Venudu. Their second effort was crowned with success. They called their second creation Chakravati, and, as he gave general satisfaction, he was placed on the throne. This supersession naturally caused Nishudu, the first born, to be discontented, and he sought a lonely place. There he communed with the gods, begging of them the reason why they had created him, if he was not to rule. The gods explained to him that he could not now be put on the throne, since Chakravati had already been installed, but that he should be a ruler over the forests. In this capacity, Nishudu begot the Koravas, Chenchus, Yānādis, and Bōyas. The Bōyas were his legitimate children, while the others were all illegitimate. According to the legend narrated in the Valmiki Rāmayana, when king Vishwamitra quarrelled with the Rishi Vashista, the cow Kamadenu belonging to the latter, grew angry, and shook herself. From her body an army, which included Nishadulu, Turka (Muhammadans), and Yevannudu (Yerukalas) at once appeared.

“A myth related by the Bōyas in explanation of their name Valmikudu runs as follows. In former days, [189]a Brāhman, who lived as a highwayman, murdering and robbing all the travellers he came across, kept a Bōya female, and begot children by her. One day, when he went out to carry on his usual avocation, he met the seven Rishis, who were the incarnations of the seven planets. He ordered them to deliver their property, or risk their lives. The Rishis consented to give him all their property, which was little enough, but warned him that one day he would be called to account for his sinful deeds. The Brāhman, however, haughtily replied that he had a large family to maintain, and, as they lived on his plunder, they would have to share the punishment that was inflicted upon himself. The Rishis doubted this, and advised him to go and find out from his family if they were willing to suffer an equal punishment with him for his sins. The Brāhman went to his house, and confessed his misdeeds to his wife, explaining that it was through them that he had been able to keep the family in luxury. He then told her of his meeting with the Rishis, and asked her if she would share his responsibility. His wife and children emphatically refused to be in any way responsible for his sins, which they declared were entirely his business. Being at his wit’s end, he returned to the Rishis, told them how unfortunate he was in his family affairs, and begged advice of them as to what he should do to be absolved from his sins. They told him that he should call upon the god Rāma for forgiveness. But, owing to his bad bringing up and his misspent youth, he was unable to utter the god’s name. So the Rishis taught him to say it backwards by syllables, thus:—ma ra, ma ra, ma ra, which, by rapid repetition a number of times, gradually grew into Rāma. When he was able to call on his god without difficulty, the Brāhman sat at the scene of his [190]graver sins, and did penance. White-ants came out of the ground, and gradually enveloped him in a heap. After he had been thus buried alive, he became himself a Rishi, and was known as Valmiki Rishi, valmiki meaning an ant-hill. As he had left children by the Bōya woman who lived with him during his prodigal days, the Bōyas claim to be descended from these children and call themselves Valmikudu.”

The Bēdars, whom I examined at Hospet in the Bellary district, used to go out on hunting expeditions, equipped with guns, deer or hog spears, nets like lawn-tennis nets used in drives for young deer or hares. Several men had cicatrices, as the result of encounters with wild boars during hunting expeditions, or when working in the sugar plantations. It is noted in the Bellary Gazetteer that “the only caste which goes in for manly sports seems to be the Bōyas, or Bēdars, as they are called in Canarese. They organise drives for pig, hunt bears in some parts in a fearless manner, and are regular attendants at the village gymnasium (garidi mane), a building without any ventilation often constructed partly underground, in which the ideal exercise consists in using dumbbells and clubs until a profuse perspiration follows. They get up wrestling matches, tie a band of straw round one leg, and challenge all and sundry to remove it, or back themselves to perform feats of strength, such as running up the steep Joladarāsi hill near Hospet with a bag of grain on their back.” At Hospet wrestling matches are held at a quiet spot outside the town, to witness which a crowd of many hundreds collect. The wrestlers, who performed before me, had the hair shaved clean behind so that the adversary could not seize them by the back hair, and the moustache was trimmed short for the same reason. [191]Two young wrestlers, whose measurements I place on record, were splendid specimens of youthful muscularity.

cm. cm.
Height 163.2 163
Shoulders 41.8 42.8
Chest 84 82
Upper arm, flexed 28 29
Thigh 47 51

In the Gazetteer of Anantapur it is stated that the Telugu New Year’s day is the great occasion for driving pig, and the Bōyas are the chief organisers of the beats. All except children, the aged and infirm, join in them, and, since to have good sport is held to be the best of auguries for the coming year, the excitement aroused is almost ludicrous in its intensity. It runs so high that the parties from rival villages have been known to use their weapons upon one another, instead of upon the beasts of the chase. In an article entitled “Bōyas and bears”48 a European sportsman gives the following graphic description of a bear hunt. “We used to sleep out on the top of one of the hills on a moonlight night. On the top of every hill round, a Bōya was watching for the bears to come home at dawn, and frantic signals showed when one had been spotted. We hurried off to the place, to try and cut the bear off from his residence among the boulders, but the country was terribly rough, and the hills were covered with a peculiarly persistent wait-a-bit-thorn. This, however, did not baulk the Bōyas. Telling me to wait outside the jumble of rocks, each man took off his turban, wound it round his left forearm, to act as a shield against attacks from the bear, lit a rude torch, grasped his long iron-headed spear, and [192]coolly walked into the inky blackness of the enemy’s stronghold, to turn him out for me to shoot at. I used to feel ashamed of the minor part assigned to me in the entertainment, and asked to be allowed to go inside with them. But this suggestion was always respectfully, but very firmly put aside. One could not see to shoot in such darkness, they explained, and, if one fired, smoke hung so long in the still air of the caves that the bear obtained an unpleasant advantage, and, finally, bullets fired at close quarters into naked rock were apt to splash or re-bound in an uncanny manner. So I had to wait outside until the bear appeared with a crowd of cheering and yelling Bōyas after him.” Of a certain cunning bear the same writer records that, unable to shake the Bōyas off, “he had at last taken refuge at the bottom of a sort of dark pit, ‘four men deep’ as the Bōyas put it, under a ledge of rock, where neither spears nor torches could reach him. Not to be beaten, three of the Bōyas at length clambered down after him, and unable otherwise to get him to budge from under the mass of rock beneath which he had squeezed himself, fired a cheap little nickel-plated revolver one of them had brought twice into his face. The bear then concluded that his refuge was after all an unhealthy spot, rushed out, knocking one of the three men against the rocks as he did so, with a force which badly barked one shoulder, clambered out of the pit, and was thereafter kept straight by the Bōyas until he got to the entrance of his residence, where I was waiting for him.”

Mr. Mainwaring writes that “the Bōyas are adepts at shikar (hunting). They use a bullock to stalk antelope, which they shoot with matchlocks. Some keep a tame buck, which they let loose in the vicinity of a herd of antelope, having previously fastened a net over [193]his horns. As soon as the tame animal approaches the herd, the leading buck will come forward to investigate the intruder. The tame buck does not run away, as he probably would if he had been brought up from infancy to respect the authority of the buck of the herd. A fight naturally ensues, and the exchange of a few butts finds them fastened together by the net. It is then only necessary for the shikāris to rush up, and finish the strife with a knife.”

Among other occupations, the Bōyas and Bēdars collect honey-combs, which, in some places, have to be gathered from crevices in overhanging rocks, which have to be skilfully manipulated from above or below.

The Bēdar men, whom I saw during the rainy season, wore a black woollen kambli (blanket) as a body-cloth, and it was also held over the head as a protection against the driving showers of the south-west monsoon. The same cloth further does duty as a basket for bringing back to the town heavy loads of grass. Some of the men wore a garment with the waist high up in the chest, something like an English rustic’s smock frock. Those who worked in the fields carried steel tweezers on a string round the loins, with which to remove bābūl (Acacia arabica) thorns, twigs of which tree are used as a protective hedge for fields under cultivation. As examples of charms worn by men the following may be cited:—

String tied round right upper arm with metal talisman box attached to it, to drive away devils. String round ankle for the same purpose.

Quarter-anna rolled up in cotton cloth, and worn on upper arm in performance of a vow.

A man, who had dislocated his shoulder when a lad, had been tattooed with a figure of Hanumān (the [194]monkey god) over the deltoid muscle to remove the pain.

Necklet of coral and ivory beads worn as a vow to the Goddess Huligamma, whose shrine is in Hyderabad.

Necklets of ivory beads and a gold disc with the Vishnupād (feet of Vishnu) engraved on it. Purchased from a religious mendicant to bring good luck.

Myāsa Bēdar women are said49 to be debarred from wearing toe-rings. Both Ūru and Myāsa women are tattooed on the face, and on the upper extremities with elaborate designs of cars, scorpions, centipedes, Sīta’s jade (plaited hair), Hanumān, parrots, etc. Men are branded by the priest of a Hanumān shrine on the shoulders with the emblem of the chank shell (Turbinella rapa) and chakram (wheel of the law) in the belief that it enables them to go to Swarga (heaven). When a Myāsa man is branded, he has to purchase a cylindrical basket called gopāla made by a special Mēdara woman, a bamboo stick, fan, and winnow. Female Bēdars who are branded become Basavis (dedicated prostitutes), and are dedicated to a male deity, and called Gandu Basaviōru (male Basavis). They are thus dedicated when there happens to be no male child in a family; or, if a girl falls ill, a vow is made to the effect that, if she recovers, she shall become a Basavi. If a son is born to such a woman, he is affiliated with her father’s family. Some Bēdar women, whose house deities are goddesses instead of gods, are not branded, but a string with white bone beads strung on it, and a gold disc with two feet (Vishnupād) impressed on it, is tied round their neck by a Kuruba woman called Pattantha Ellamma (priestess [195]to Uligamma). Bēdar girls, whose house deities are females, when they are dedicated as Basavis, have in like manner a necklace, but with black beads, tied round the neck, and are called Hennu Basavis (female Basavis). For the ceremony of dedication to a female deity, the presence of the Mādiga goddess Mātangi is necessary. The Mādigas bring a bent iron rod with a cup at one end, and twigs of Vitex Negundo to represent the goddess, to whom goats are sacrificed. The iron rod is set up in front of the doorway, a wick and oil are placed in the cup, and the impromptu lamp is lighted. Various cooked articles of food are offered, and partaken of by the assembled Bēdars. Bēdar women sometimes live in concubinage with Muhammadans. And some Bēdars, at the time of the Mohurram festival, wear a thread across the chest like Muhammadans, and may not enter their houses till they have washed themselves.

According to the Mysore Census Report, 1901, the chief deity of the Bēdars is “Tirupati Venkatarāmanaswāmi worshipped locally under the name of Tirumaladēvaru, but offerings and sacrifices are also made to Māriamma. Their guru is known as Tirumalatatachārya, who is also a head of the Srīvaishnava Brāhmans. The Ūru Bōyas employ Brāhmans and Jangams as priests.” In addition to the deities mentioned, the Bēdars worship a variety of minor gods, such as Kanimiraya, Kanakarayan, Uligamma, Palaya, Poleramma, and others, to whom offerings of fruits and vegetables, and sacrifices of sheep and goats are made. The Dewān of Sandūr informs me that, in recent times, some Myāsa Bēdars have changed their faith, and are now Saivas, showing special reverence to Mahadēva. They were apparently converted by Jangams, but not to the fullest extent. The guru is the head of the Ujjani Lingayat matt (religious institution) [196]in the Kudligi tāluk of Bellary. They do not wear the lingam. In the Madras Census Report, 1901, the patron deity of the Bōyas is said to be Kanyā Dēvudu.

Concerning the religion of the Bōyas, Mr. Mainwaring writes as follows. “They worship both Siva and Vishnu, and also different gods in different localities. In the North Arcot district, they worship Tirupatiswāmi. In Kurnool, it is Kanyā Dēvudu. In Cuddapah and Anantapūr, it is Chendrugadu, and many, in Anantapūr, worship Akkamma, who is believed to be the spirit of the seven virgins. At Uravakonda, in the Anantapūr district, on the summit of an enormous rock, is a temple dedicated to Akkamma, in which the seven virgins are represented by seven small golden pots or vessels. Cocoanuts, rice, and dal (Cajanus indicus) form the offerings of the Bōyas. The women, on the occasion of the Nāgalasauthi or snake festival, worship the Nāgala swāmi by fasting, and pouring milk into the holes of ‘white-ant’ hills. By this, a double object is fulfilled. The ‘ant’ heap is a favourite dwelling of the nāga or cobra, and it was the burial-place of Vālmīki, so homage is paid to the two at the same time. Once a year, a festival is celebrated in honour of the deceased ancestors. This generally takes place about the end of November. The Bōyas make no use of Brāhmans for religious purposes. They are only consulted as regards the auspicious hour at which to tie the tāli at a wedding. Though the Bōya finds little use for the Brāhman, there are times when the latter needs the services of the Bōya. The Bōya cannot be dispensed with, if a Brāhman wishes to perform Vontigadu, a ceremony by which he hopes to induce favourable auspices under which to celebrate a marriage. The story has it that Vontigadu was a destitute Bōya, who died from starvation. It is [197]possible that Brāhmans and Sūdras hope in some way to ameliorate the sufferings of the race to which Vontigadu belonged, by feeding sumptuously his modern representative on the occasion of performing the Vontigadu ceremony. On the morning of the day on which the ceremony, for which favourable auspices are required, is performed, a Bōya is invited to the house. He is given a present of gingelly (Sesamum) oil, wherewith to anoint himself. This done, he returns, carrying in his hand a dagger, on the point of which a lime has been stuck. He is directed to the cowshed, and there given a good meal. After finishing the meal, he steals from the shed, and dashes out of the house, uttering a piercing yell, and waving his dagger. He on no account looks behind him. The inmates of the house follow for some distance, throwing water wherever he has trodden. By this means, all possible evil omens for the coming ceremony are done away with.”

I gather50 that some Bōyas in the Bellary district “enjoy inām (rent free) lands for propitiating the village goddesses by a certain rite called bhūta bali. This takes place on the last day of the feast of the village goddess, and is intended to secure the prosperity of the village. The Bōya priest gets himself shaved at about midnight, sacrifices a sheep or a buffalo, mixes its blood with rice, and distributes the rice thus prepared in small balls throughout the limits of the village. When he starts out on this business, the whole village bolts its doors, as it is not considered auspicious to see him then. He returns early in the morning to the temple of the goddess from which he started, bathes, and receives new cloths from the villagers.” [198]

At Hospet the Bēdars have two buildings called chāvadis, built by subscription among members of their community, which they use as a meeting place, and whereat caste councils are held. At Sandūr the Ūru Bēdars submit their disputes to their guru, a Srīvaishnava Brāhman, for settlement. If a case ends in a verdict of guilty against an accused person, he is fined, and purified by the guru with thīrtham (holy water). In the absence of the guru, a caste headman, called Kattaintivadu, sends a Dāsari, who may or may not be a Bēdar, who holds office under the guru, to invite the castemen and the Samaya, who represents the guru in his absence, to attend a caste meeting. The Samayas are the pūjāris at Hanumān and other shrines, and perform the branding ceremony, called chakrānkitam. The Myāsa Bēdars have no guru, but, instead of him, pūjāris belonging to their own caste, who are in charge of the affairs of certain groups of families. Their caste messenger is called Dalavai.

The following are examples of exogamous septs among the Bōyas, recorded by Mr. Mainwaring:—

  • Mukkara, nose or ear ornament.
  • Majjiga, butter-milk.
  • Kukkala, dog.
  • Pūla, flowers.
  • Pandhi, pig.
  • Chilakala, paroquet.
  • Hastham, hand.
  • Yelkamēti, good rat.
  • Mīsāla, whiskers.
  • Nemili, peacock.
  • Pēgula, intestines.
  • Mījam, seed.
  • Uttarēni, Achyranthes aspera.
  • Puchakayala, Citrullus Colocynthis.
  • Gandhapodi, sandal powder.
  • Pasula, cattle.
  • Chinthakāyala, Tamarindus indica.
  • Āvula, cow.
  • Udumala, lizard (Varanus).
  • Pulagam, cooked rice and dhal.
  • Boggula, charcoal.
  • Midathala, locust.
  • Potta, abdomen.
  • Ūtla, swing for holding pots.
  • Rottala, bread.
  • Chimpiri, rags. [199]
  • Panchalingāla, five lingams.
  • Gudisa, hut.
  • Tōta, garden.
  • Lanka, island.
  • Bilpathri, Ægle Marmelos.
  • Kōdi-kandla, fowl’s eyes.
  • Gādidhe-kandla, donkey’s eyes.
  • Jōti, light.
  • Nāmāla, the Vaishnavite nāmam.
  • Nāgellu, plough.
  • Ulligadda, onions.
  • Jinkala, gazelle.
  • Dandu, army.
  • Kattelu, sticks or faggots.
  • Mēkala, goat.
  • Nakka, jackal.
  • Chevvula, ear.
  • Kōtala, fort.
  • Chāpa, mat.
  • Guntala, pond.
  • Thappata, drum.
  • Bellapu, jaggery.
  • Chīmala, ants.
  • Gennēru, Nerium odorum.
  • Pichiga, sparrows.
  • Uluvala, Dolichos biflorus.
  • Geddam, beard.
  • Eddula, bulls.
  • Cheruku, sugar-cane.
  • Pasupu, turmeric.
  • Aggi, fire.
  • Mirapakāya, Capsicum frutescens.
  • Janjapu, sacred thread.
  • Sankati, rāgi or millet pudding.
  • Jerripōthu, centipede.
  • Guvvala, pigeon.

Many of these septs are common to the Bōyas and other classes, as shown by the following list:—

  • Āvula, cow—Korava.
  • Boggula, charcoal—Dēvānga.
  • Cheruku, sugar-cane—Jōgi, Oddē.
  • Chevvula, ear—Golla.
  • Chilakala, paroquet—Kāpu, Yānādi.
  • Chīmala, ants—Tsākala.
  • Chinthakāyala, tamarind fruit—Dēvānga.
  • Dandu, army—Kāpu.
  • Eddula, bulls—Kāpu.
  • Gandhapodi, sandal powder—a sub-division of Balija.
  • Geddam, beard—Padma Sālē.
  • Gudisa, hut—Kāpu.
  • Guvvala, pigeon—Mutrācha.
  • Jinkala, gazelle—Padma Sālē.
  • Kukkala, dog—Orugunta Kāpu.
  • Lanka, island—Kamma.
  • Mēkala, goat—Chenchu, Golla, Kamma, Kāpu, Togata, Yānādi. [200]
  • Midathala, locust—Mādiga.
  • Nakkala, jackal—Dudala, Golla, Mutrācha.
  • Nemili, peacock—Balija.
  • Pichiga, sparrow—Dēvānga.
  • Pandhi, pig—Asili, Gamalla.
  • Pasula, cattle—Mādiga, Māla.
  • Puchakāya, colocynth—Kōmati, Vīramushti.
  • Pūla, flowers—Padma Sālē, Yerukala.
  • Tōta, garden—Chenchu, Mīla, Mutrācha, Bonthuk Savara.
  • Udumala, lizard—Kāpu, Tōttiyan, Yānādi.
  • Ulligadda, onions—Korava.
  • Uluvala, horse-gram—Jōgi.
  • Utla, swing for holding pots—Padma Sālē.

At Hospet, the preliminaries of a marriage among the Myāsa Bēdars are arranged by the parents of the parties concerned and the chief men of the kēri (street). On the wedding day, the bride and bridegroom sit on a raised platform, and five married men place rice stained with turmeric on the feet, knees, shoulders, and head of the bridegroom. This is done three times, and five married women then perform a similar ceremony on the bride. The bridegroom takes up the tāli, and, with the sanction of the assembled Bēdars, ties it on the bride’s neck. In some places it is handed to a Brāhman priest, who ties it instead of the bridegroom. The unanimous consent of those present is necessary before the tāli-tying is proceeded with. The marriage ceremony among the Ūru Bēdars is generally performed at the bride’s house, whither the bridegroom and his party proceed on the eve of the wedding. A feast, called thuppathūta or ghī (clarified butter) feast, is held, towards which the bridegroom’s parents contribute rice, cocoanuts, betel leaves and nuts, and make a present of five bodices (rāvike). At the conclusion of the feast, all assemble beneath the marriage pandal (booth), and [201]betel is distributed in a recognised order of precedence, commencing with the guru and the god. On the following morning four big pots, smeared with turmeric and chunam (lime) are placed in four corners, so as to have a square space (irāni square) between them. Nine turns of cotton thread are wound round the pots. Within the square the bridegroom and two young girls seat themselves. Rice is thrown over them, and they are anointed. They and the bride are then washed by five women called bhūmathōru. The bridegroom and one of the girls are carried in procession to the temple, followed by the five women, one of whom carries a brass vessel with five betel leaves and a ball of sacred ashes (vibūthi) over its mouth, and another a woman’s cloth on a metal dish, while the remaining three women and the bridegroom’s parents throw rice. Cocoanuts and betel are offered to Hanumān, and lines are drawn on the face of the bridegroom with the sacred ashes. The party then return to the house. The lower half of a grinding mill is placed beneath the pandal, and a Brāhman priest invites the contracting couple to stand thereon. He then takes the tāli, and ties it on the bride’s neck, after it has been touched by the bridegroom. Towards evening the newly married couple sit inside the house, and close to them is placed a big brass vessel containing a mixture of cooked rice, jaggery (crude sugar) and curds, which is brought by the women already referred to. They give a small quantity thereof to the couple, and go away. Five Bēdar men come near the vessel after removing their head-dress, surround the vessel, and place their left hands thereon. With their right hands they shovel the food into their mouths, and bolt it with all possible despatch. This ceremony is called bhūma idothu, or special eating, and is in some [202]places performed by both men and women. All those present watch them eating, and, if any one chokes while devouring the food, or falls ill within a few months, it is believed to indicate that the bride has been guilty of irregular behaviour. On the following day the contracting couple go through the streets, accompanied by Bēdars, the brass vessel and female cloth, and red powder is scattered broadcast. On the morning of the third and two following days, the newly married couple sit on a pestle, and are anointed after rice has been showered over them. The bride’s father presents his son-in-law with a turban, a silver ring, and a cloth. It is said that a man may marry two sisters, provided that he marries the elder before the younger.

The following variant of the marriage ceremonies among the Bōyas is given by Mr. Mainwaring. “When a Bōya has a son who should be settled in life, he nominally goes in search of a bride for him, though it has probably been known for a long time who the boy is to marry. However, the formality is gone through. The father of the boy, on arrival at the home of the future bride, explains to her father the object of his visit. They discuss each other’s families, and, if satisfied that a union would be beneficial to both families, the father of the girl asks his visitor to call again, on a day that is agreed to, with some of the village elders. On the appointed day, the father of the lad collects the elders of his village, and proceeds with them to the house of the bride-elect. He carries with him four moottus (sixteen seers) of rice, one seer of dhal (Cajanus indicus), two seers of ghī (clarified butter), some betel leaves and areca nuts, a seer of fried gram, two lumps of jaggery (molasses), five garlic bulbs, five dried dates, five pieces of turmeric, and a female jacket. In the [203]evening, the elders of both sides discuss the marriage, and, when it is agreed to, the purchase money has to be at once paid. The cost of a bride is always 101 madas, or Rs. 202. Towards this sum, sixteen rupees are counted out, and the total is arrived at by counting areca nuts. The remaining nuts, and articles which were brought by the party of the bridegroom, are then placed on a brass tray, and presented to the bride-elect, who is requested to take three handfuls of nuts and the same quantity of betel leaves. On some occasions, the betel leaves are omitted. Betel is then distributed to the assembled persons. The provisions which were brought are next handed over to the parents of the girl, in addition to two rupees. These are to enable her father to provide himself with a sheet, as well as to give a feast to all those who are present at the betrothal. This is done on the following morning, when both parties breakfast together, and separate. The wedding is usually fixed for a day a fortnight or a month after the betrothal ceremony. The ceremony differs but slightly from that performed by various other castes. A purōhit is consulted as to the auspicious hour at which the tāli or bottu should be tied. This having been settled, the bridegroom goes, on the day fixed, to the bride’s village, or sometimes the bride goes to the village of the bridegroom. Supposing the bridegroom to be the visitor, the bride’s party carries in procession the provisions which are to form the meal for the bridegroom’s party, and this will be served on the first night. As the auspicious hour approaches, the bride’s party leave her in the house, and go and fetch the bridegroom, who is brought in procession to the house of the bride. On arrival, he is made to stand under the pandal which has been erected. A curtain is tied therein from north to [204]south. The bridegroom then stands on the east of the curtain, and faces west. The bride is brought from the house, and placed on the west of the curtain, facing her future husband. The bridegroom then takes up the bottu, which is generally a black thread with a small gold bead upon it. He shows it to the assembled people, and asks permission to fasten it on the bride’s neck. The permission is accorded with acclamations. He then fastens the bottu on the bride’s neck, and she, in return, ties a thread from a black cumbly (blanket), on which a piece of turmeric has been threaded, round the right wrist of the bridegroom. After this, the bridegroom takes some seed, and places it in the bride’s hand. He then puts some pepper-corns with the seed, and forms his hands into a cup over those of the bride. Her father then pours milk into his hand, and the bridegroom, holding it, swears to be faithful to his wife until death. After he has taken the oath, he allows the milk to trickle through into the hands of the bride. She receives it, and lets it drop into a vessel placed on the ground between them. This is done three times, and the oath is repeated with each performance. Then the bride goes through the same ceremony, swearing on each occasion to be true to her husband until death. This done, both wipe their hands on some rice, which is placed close at hand on brass trays. In each of these trays there must be five seers of rice, five pieces of turmeric, five bulbs of garlic, a lump of jaggery, five areca nuts, and five dried dates. When their hands are dry, the bridegroom takes as much of the rice as he can in his hands, and pours it over the bride’s head. He does this three times, before submitting to a similar operation at the hands of the bride. Then each takes a tray, and upsets the contents over the other. At this [205]stage, the curtain is removed, and, the pair standing side by side, their cloths are knotted together. The knot is called the knot of Brahma, and signifies that it is Brahma who has tied them together. They now walk out of the pandal, and make obeisance to the sun by bowing, and placing their hands together before their breasts in the reverential position of prayer. Returning to the pandal, they go to one corner of it, where five new and gaudily painted earthenware pots filled with water have been previously arranged. Into one of these pots, one of the females present drops a gold nose ornament, or a man drops a ring. The bride and bridegroom put their right hands into the pot, and search for the article. Whichever first finds it takes it out, and, showing it, declares that he or she has found it. This farce is repeated three times, and the couple then take their seats on a cumbly in the centre of the pandal, and await the preparation of the great feast which closes the ceremony. For this, two sheep are killed, and the friends and relations who have attended are given as much curry and rice as they can eat. Next morning, the couple go to the bridegroom’s village, or, if the wedding took place at his village, to that of the bride, and stay there three days before returning to the marriage pandal. Near the five water-pots already mentioned, some white-ant earth has been spread at the time of the wedding, and on this some paddy (unhusked rice) and dhal seeds have been scattered on the evening of the day on which the wedding commenced. By the time the couple return, these seeds have sprouted. A procession is formed, and the seedlings, being gathered up by the newly married couple, are carried to the village well, into which they are thrown. This ends the marriage ceremony. At their weddings, the Bōyas indulge in much music. Their dresses are [206]gaudy, and suitable to the occasion. The bridegroom, if he belongs to either of the superior gōtras, carries a dagger or sword placed in his cummerbund (loin-band). A song which is frequently sung at weddings is known as the song of the seven virgins. The presence of a Basavi at a wedding is looked on as a good omen for the bride, since a Basavi can never become a widow.”

In some places, a branch of Ficus religiosa or Ficus bengalensis is planted in front of the house as the marriage milk-post. If it withers, it is thrown away, but, if it takes root, it is reared. By some Bēdars a vessel is filled with milk, and into it a headman throws the nose ornament of a married woman, which is searched for by the bride and bridegroom three times. The milk is then poured into a pit, which is closed up. In the North Arcot Manual it is stated that the Bōya bride, “besides having a golden tāli tied to her neck, has an iron ring fastened to her wrist with black string, and the bridegroom has the same. Widows may not remarry or wear black bangles, but they wear silver ones.”

“Divorce,” Mr. Mainwaring writes, “is permitted. Grounds for divorce would be adultery and ill-treatment. The case would be decided by a panchāyat (council). A divorced woman is treated as a widow. The remarriage of widows is not permitted, but there is nothing to prevent a widow keeping house for a man, and begetting children by him. The couple would announce their intention of living together by giving a feast to the caste. If this formality was omitted, they would be regarded as outcastes till it was complied with. The offspring of such unions are considered illegitimate, and they are not taken or given in marriage to legitimate children. Here we come to further social distinctions. [207]Owing to promiscuous unions, the following classes spring into existence:—

1. Swajathee Sumpradayam. Pure Bōyas, the offspring of parents who have been properly married in the proper divisions and sub-divisions.
2. Koodakonna Sumpradayam. The offspring of a Bōya female, who is separated or divorced from her husband who is still alive, and who cohabits with another Bōya.
3. Vithunthu Sumpradayam. The offspring of a Bōya widow by a Bōya.
4. Arsumpradayam. The offspring of a Bōya man or woman, resulting from cohabitation with a member of some other caste.

The Swajathee Sumpradayam should only marry among themselves. Koodakonna Sumpradayam and Vithunthu Sumpradayam may marry among themselves, or with each other. Both being considered illegitimate, they cannot marry Swajathee Sumpradayam, and would not marry Arsumpradayam, as these are not true Bōyas, and are nominally outcastes, who must marry among themselves.”

On the occasion of a death among the Ūru Bēdars of Hospet, the corpse is carried on a bier by Ūru Bēdars to the burial-ground, with a new cloth thrown over, and flowers strewn thereon. The sons of the deceased each place a quarter-anna in the mouth of the corpse, and pour water near the grave. After it has been laid therein, all the agnates throw earth into it, and it is filled in and covered over with a mound, on to the head end of which five quarter-anna pieces are thrown. The eldest son, or a near relation, takes up a pot filled with water, and stands at the head of the grave, facing west. A hole is made in the pot, and, after going thrice round the grave, he throws away the pot behind him, and goes home without looking back. This ceremony is called thelagolu, and, if a person dies without any heir, the [208]individual who performs it succeeds to such property as there may be. On the third day the mound is smoothed down, and three stones are placed over the head, abdomen, and legs of the corpse, and whitewashed. A woman brings some luxuries in the way of food, which are mixed up in a winnowing tray divided into three portions, and placed in the front of the stones for crows to partake of. Kites and other animals are driven away, if they attempt to steal the food. On the ninth day, the divasa (the day) ceremony is performed. At the spot where the deceased died is placed a decorated brass vessel representing the soul of the departed, with five betel leaves and a ball of sacred ashes over its mouth. Close to it a lamp is placed, and a sheep is killed. Two or three days afterwards, rice and vegetables are cooked. Those who have been branded carry their gods, represented by the cylindrical bamboo basket and stick already referred to, to a stream, wash them therein, and do worship. On their return home, the food is offered to their gods, and served first to the Dāsari, and then to the others, who must not eat till they have received permission from the Dāsari. When a Myāsa Bēdar, who has been branded, dies his basket and stick are thrown into the grave with the corpse.

In the Mysore Census Report, 1891, the Mysore Bēdars are said to cremate the dead, and on the following day to scatter the ashes on five tangēdu (Cassia auriculata) trees.

It is noted by Buchanan51 that the spirits of Baydaru men who die without having married become Vīrika (heroes), and to their memory have small temples and images erected, where offerings of cloth, rice, and the [209]like, are made to their names. If this be neglected, they appear in dreams, and threaten those who are forgetful of their duty. These temples consist of a heap or cairn of stones, in which the roof of a small cavity is supported by two or three flags; and the image is a rude shapeless stone, which is occasionally oiled, as in this country all other images are.”

Bēdar.—See Vēdan.

Bēgara.—Bēgara or Byāgara is said to be a synonym applied by Canarese Lingāyats to Holeyas.

Bēhara.—Recorded, at times of census, as a title of various Oriya castes, e.g., Alia, Aruva, Dhōbi, Gaudo, Jaggali, Kevuto, Kurumo, Ronguni, and Sondi. In some cases, e.g., among the Rongunis, the title is practically an exogamous sept. The headman of many Oriya castes is called Bēhara.

Bejjo.—A sub-division of Bhondāri, and title of Kevuto.

Bēlata (Feronia elephantum: wood-apple).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Bellapu (jaggery: palm-sugar).—An exogamous sept of Boya.

Bellara.—“The Bellaras, or Belleras,” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,52 “are a somewhat higher caste of basket and mat-makers than the Parava umbrella-makers and devil-dancers. They speak a dialect of Canarese (see South Canara Manual, Vol. II). They follow the aliya santāna law (inheritance in the female line), but divorce is not so easy as amongst most adherents of that rule of inheritance, and divorced women, it is said, may not marry again. Widows, however, may remarry. The dead are either burned or buried, and a feast called Yede [210]Besala is given annually in the name of deceased ancestors. The use of alcohol and flesh, except beef, is permitted. They make both grass and bamboo mats.”

Bellathannaya (jaggery: crude sugar).—An exogamous sept of Bant.

Bellē (white).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. The equivalent bilē occurs as a gōtra of Kurni.

Belli.—Belli or Velli, meaning silver, has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Badaga, Korava, Kuruba, Mādiga, Okkiliyan, Toreya, and Vakkaliga. The Belli Toreyas may not wear silver toe-rings.

Vellikkai, or silver-handed, has been returned as a sub-division of the Konga Vellalas.

Bēlu (Feronia elephantum).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Benayito.—A sub-division of Odiya.

Bendē (Hibiscus esculentus).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. The mucilaginous fruit (bendēkai or bandicoy) of this plant is a favourite vegetable of both Natives and Europeans. The nickname Bendēkai is sometimes given, in reference to the sticky nature of the fruit, to those who try to smooth matters over between contending parties.

Bengri (frog).—A sept of Dōmb.

Benia.—A small caste of Oriya cultivators and palanquin-bearers in Ganjam. It is on record53 that in Ganjam honey and wax are collected by the Konds and Benias, who are expert climbers of precipitous rocks and lofty trees. The name is said to be derived from bena, grass, as the occupation of the caste was formerly to remove grass, and clear land for cultivation.

Benise (flint stone).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba. [211]

Benne (butter).—A gōtra of Kurni.

Bēpāri.—Bēpāri is, in the Madras Census Report, described as “a caste allied to the Lambādis. Its members worship a female deity called Banjāra, speak the Bēpāri or Lambādi language, and claim to be Kshatriyas.” Bhonjo, the title of the Rājāh of Gumsūr, was returned as a sub-caste. The Rev. G. Gloyer54 correctly makes the name Boipari synonymous with Brinjāri, and his illustration of a Boipari family represents typical Lambādis or Brinjāris. Bēpāri and Boipari are forms of Vyapāri or Vēpāri, meaning a trader. The Bēpāris are traders and carriers between the hills and plains in the Vizagapatam Agency tracts. Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao informs me that “they regard themselves as immune from the attacks of tigers, if they take certain precautions. Most of them have to pass through places infested with these beasts, and their favourite method of keeping them off is as follows. As soon as they encamp at a place, they level a square bit of ground, and light fires in the middle of it, round which they pass the night. It is their firm belief that the tiger will not enter the square, from fear lest it should become blind, and eventually be shot. I was once travelling towards Malkangiri from Jeypore, when I fell in with a party of these people encamped in the manner described. At that time, several villages about Malkangiri were being ravaged by a notorious man-eater (tiger).”

Beralakoduva (finger-giving).—A section of the Vakkaligas, among whom the custom of sacrificing some of the fingers used to prevail. (See Morasu.)

Bēri Chetti.—The Bēri Chettis, or principal merchants, like other Chettis and Kōmatis, claim to be [212]Vaisyas, “but they will not admit that the Kōmatis are on a par with them, and declare that they alone represent the true Vaisya stock.”55 With regard to their origin, the Kanyakapurāna states that a certain king wanted to marry a beautiful maiden of the Kōmati caste. When the Kōmatis declined to agree to the match, the king began to persecute them, and those Kōmatis who left the country out of fear were called Bēri or Bediri (fear) Chettis. The story is, in fact, similar to that told by the Nāttukōttai Chettis, and the legend, no doubt, refers to persecution of some king, whose extortion went beyond the limits of custom. Another derivation of the word Bēri is from perumai, greatness or splendour. The name Bēri, as applied to a sub-division of the Kōmatis, is said to be a corruption of bedari, and to denote those who fled through fear, and did not enter the fire-pits with the caste goddess Kanyakamma.

The legend of the Bēri Chettis, as given by Mr. H. A. Stuart,55 states that “Kāvēripuram near Kumbakōnam was formerly the town in which the caste principally resided. The king of the country attempted to obtain a Bēri Chetti maiden in marriage, but was refused, and he therefore persecuted them, and drove them out of his dominions, forbidding interchange of meals between them and any other caste whatever—a prohibition which is still in force.”

The Bēri Chettis have a number of endogamous divisions, named after geographical areas, towns, etc., such as Tirutaniyar, Acharapākaththar, Telungu, Pākkam, Musalpākam. Among these there is an order of social precedence, some of the divisions interdining, others not. [213]

The Bēri Chettis are, like the Kammālans (artisan class), a leading caste of the left-hand section, and the following story is narrated. While the Bēris were living at Kāvēripuram in a thousand houses, each house bearing a distinct gōtra (house name,) a king, who took wives from among all castes, wanted the Bēris to give him one of their maidens. Though unwilling, they promised to do so, but made up their minds to get over the difficulty by a ruse. On the day fixed for the marriage, all the Bēri families left the place, after a male black dog had been tied to the milk-post of the marriage pandal (booth). When he learnt what had occurred, the king was very angry, and forbade all castes to take water from the Bēris. And this led to their joining the left-hand section.

The Bēri Chettis resort to the panchāyat system of administration of affairs affecting the caste, and the headman, called Peridanakkāran, is assisted by a barber of the left-hand section. They are in favour of infant marriages, though adult marriage is not prohibited. They are not allowed to tie plantain trees to the posts of the wedding pandal, with the trees touching the ground. If this is done, the Paraiyans, who belong to the right-hand section, cut them down. This custom is still observed in some out-of-the way villages. Upanāyanam, or investiture with the sacred thread, is either performed long before marriage, or by some along with the marriage rite. A man or boy, after investiture, always wears the thread.

Most of the Bēri Chettis are meat-eaters, but some profess to be vegetarians.

It is said that there is much dispute between the Bēri Chettis and the Kōmatis regarding their relative positions, and each caste delights to tell stories to [214]the detriment of the other. In general estimation, however, the Bēris are deemed a little inferior to the Kōmatis.”56 The claim of the Bēri Chettis to be Vaisyas is based on the following legend, as given by Mr. Stuart.57 “In the time of the Chōlas, they erected a water-pandal, and Kōmatis claimed the right to use it, which was at once denied. The king attempted to solve the question by reference to inscriptions in the Kāmākshiamma temple at Conjeeveram, but without success. He then proposed that the rivals should submit to the ordeal of carrying water in an unbaked pot. This was agreed to, and the Bēri Chettis were alone successful. The penalty for failure was a fine of Rs. 12,000, which the Kōmatis could not pay, and they were therefore obliged to enslave themselves to a Bēri Chetti woman, who paid the fine. Their descendants are still marked men, who depend upon Bēri Chettis for their subsistence. The great body of the Kōmatis in the country were not parties to the agreement, and they do not now admit that their inferiority has ever been proved.” According to another version of the legend, during the reign of the Chōlas, a water-pandal was erected by the Bēris, and the Kōmatis claimed the right to use it. This was refused on the ground that they were not Vaisyas. The question at issue was referred to the king, who promised to enquire into it, but did not do so. A Vīramushti (caste beggar of the Bēri Chettis and Kōmatis) killed the king’s horse and elephant. When questioned as to his reason for so doing, he explained that it was to call the king’s attention to the dispute, and restored the animals to life. The king then referred both parties to Conjeeveram, where a [215]sāsanam (copper-plate grant) was believed to exist. To procure this document, the decapitation of twelve human beings was necessary, and the Vīramushti sacrificed his twelve children. According to the document, the Bēris were Vaisyas, and the Kōmatis were ordered to be beheaded. But some Bēris interceded on their behalf, and they were pardoned on condition that they would pay a sum of money. To secure the necessary money, they became slaves to a rich Bēri woman. Ever since this incident, the Kōmatis have been the children of the Bēris, and their descendants are called Pillaipūntha Kōmati, or Kōmati who became a son. For the services which he rendered, the Vīramushti is said to have been presented with a sāsanam, and he is treated as a son by the caste men, among whom he has some influence. For example, the Bēri Chettis may not plant in their back-yards Moringa pterygosperma, Dolichos Lablab, or a red variety of Amarantus. If the Vīramushti found the first of these planted, he would destroy it, and demand a fine of three fanams. For Dolichos the fine is six fanams, and for Amarantus one fanam. The rearing of pigs, goats, and fowls by the Bēri Chettis is forbidden under penalty of a fine. If a Bēri Chetti woman carries a water-pot on her head, the Vīramushti will throw it down, and demand a fine of twelve fanams. The women are not allowed to carry on sales at a public fair, under penalty of excommunication. The Bēri Chettis and Kōmatis should not do business together.

The Kammālans and Chettis are regarded as friends, and there is a Tamil proverb “Settiyum Kammālanum onnu,” i.e., the Chetti and Kammālan are one. In this connection the following legend is quoted. “In the town of Kanda, anciently the Camalas (artificers of five sorts) lived closely united together, and were employed [216]by all ranks of men, as there were no artificers besides them. They feared and respected no king, which offended certain kings, who combined against them, taking with them all kinds of arms. But, as the fort (Kanda Kōttai, or magnetic fort), in which the Camalar lived, was entirely constructed of loadstone, this attracted, and drew the weapons away from the hands of the assailants. The kings then promised a great reward to any one who should burn down the fort. No one dared to do this. At length the courtesans of a temple engaged to effect it, and took the pledge of betel and areca, engaging thereby to do so. The kings, greatly rejoicing, built a fort opposite, filled with such kind of courtesans, who, by their singing, attracted the people from the fort, and led to intercourse. One of these at length succeeded in extracting from a young man the secret, that, if the fort was surrounded with varacu straw, set on fire, it might be destroyed. The king accordingly had this done, and, in the burning down of the fort, many of the Camalar lost their lives. Some took to ships belonging to them, and escaped by sea. In consequence, there were no artificers in that country. Those taken in the act of endeavouring to escape were beheaded. One woman of the tribe, being pregnant, took refuge in the house of a Chetti, and escaped, passing for his daughter. From a want of artificers, who made implements for weavers, husbandmen, and the like, manufactures and agriculture ceased, and great discontent arose in the country. The king, being of clever wit, resorted to a device to discover if any of the tribe remained, to remedy the evil complained of. This was to send a piece of coral, having a fine tortuous aperture running through it, and a piece of thread, to all parts of the country, with promise of great reward to any one who should succeed in passing the [217]thread through the coral. None could accomplish it. At length the child that had been born in the Chetty’s house undertook to do it; and, to effect it, he placed the coral over the mouth of an ant-hole, and having steeped the thread in sugar, placed it at some little distance. The ants took the thread, and drew it through the coral. The king, seeing the difficulty overcome, gave great presents, and sent much work to be done, which that child, under the council and guidance of its mother, performed. The king sent for the Chetty, and demanded an account of this young man, which the Chetty detailed. The king had him plentifully supplied with the means especially of making ploughshares, and, having married him to the daughter of a Chetty, gave him grants of land for his maintenance. He had five sons, who followed the five different branches of work of the Camalar tribe. The king gave them the title of Pānchalar. Down to the present day there is an intimate relation between these five branches, and they intermarry with each other; while, as descendants of the Chetty tribe, they wear the pūnūl, or caste-thread of that tribe.”58

The Acharapākam Chettis are known as Malighē Chettis, and are connected with the Chettis of this legend. Even now, in the city of Madras, when the Bēri Chettis assemble for the transaction of caste business, the notice summoning the meeting excludes the Malighē Chettis, who cannot, like other Bēri Chettis, vote at elections, meetings, etc., of the Kandasāmi temple.

Some Bēri Chettis, Mr. Stuart writes, “worship Siva, and some Vishnu, and a few are Lingāyats, who do not marry into families with a different worship. They [218]bury, while the others burn their dead. All the divisions wear the sacred thread, and do not tolerate widow remarriage. Unlike Kōmatis, their daughters are sometimes married after puberty.”

Berike.—The children of a Bōya widow by a man of her own caste, with whom she lives, are said59 to drift into a distinct section called Berike.

Bestha.—The Besthas are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1891, as “a Telugu caste, the hereditary occupation of which is hunting and fishing, but they have largely taken to agriculture, and the professions of bearers and cooks.” In the Census Report, 1901, it is stated that “the fisherman caste in the Deccan districts are called Besthas and Kabbēras, while those in some parts of the Coimbatore and Salem districts style themselves Toreyar, Siviyar, and Parivārattar. These three last speak Canarese like the Kabbēras, and seem to be the same as Besthas or Kabbēras. Kabbēra and Toreya have, however, been treated as distinct castes. There are two endogamous sub-divisions in the Bestha caste, namely the Telaga and the Parigirti. Some say that the Kabbili or Kabbēravāndlu are a third. The Parigirti section trace their descent from Sūtudu, the famous expounder of the Māhābhārata. Besthas employ Brāhmans and Sātānis (or Jangams, if Saivites) for their domestic ceremonies, and imitate the Brāhman customs, prohibiting widow remarriage, and worshipping Siva and Vishnu as well as the village deities. The Maddi sub-caste is said to be called so, because they dye cotton with the bark of the maddi tree (Morinda citrifolia).” It is suggested, in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that the Besthas are really a sub-division of the [219]Gangimakkalu Kabbēras, who were originally palanquin-bearers, but, now that these vehicles have gone out of fashion, are employed in divers other ways. It may be noted that the Siviyars of Coimbatore say that they are Besthas who emigrated from Mysore in the troublous times of the Muhammadan usurpation. The name Siviyar, they say, was given to them by the Tamils, as, being strong and poor, they were palanquin-bearers to officers on circuit and others in the pre-railway days. Their main occupations at the present day are tank and river fishing.

In the Manual of the North Arcot district, it is noted that many Besthas “trade, and are in a flourishing condition, being most numerous above the ghāts. The name Bestha appears to have no meaning, but they call themselves Sūtakulam, and say they are descendants of the rishi Sūta Mahāmuni. The term Sūta also applies to the offspring of a Kshatriya by a Brāhman, but it seems more probable that the Besthas gained the name from their superiority in the culinary art, sūta also meaning cook. They are divided into Telugu Besthas and Parigirti Besthas, the difference between them being chiefly one of religious observance, the former being in the habit of getting themselves branded on the shoulders with the Vaishnavite emblems—chank and chakram—and the latter never undergoing this ceremony. It is a rule with them to employ Dāsaris as the messengers of a death, and Tsākalas, as those of a birth, or of the fact that a girl has reached womanhood. Their chief object of worship is Hanumān, the monkey god, a picture or figure of whom they always have in their houses for domestic worship.”

In connection with the names Parigirti or Pakirithi which have been recorded as divisions of the Besthas, [220]it may be observed that, in some parts of the Telugu country, the term Pakirithi is used as a substitute for Vaishnava. This word has become converted into Parigirti or Parikithi, denoting that the Besthas are Vaishnavites, as opposed to Saivites. Some Besthas, when questioned as to the origin of their caste, said that they had no purandam to help them. The word used by them is a corruption of purānam.

The Besthas are summed up, in the Mysore Census Report, 1901, as “fishermen, boatmen, and palanquin-bearers, who are known by different names according to the localities they live in. In the eastern districts they are called Bestha, in the southern Toraya, Ambiga and Parivara (boatmen), while in the western parts their names are Kabyara and Gangemakkalu. The Telugu-speaking population call themselves Boyis. Their chief occupations are fishing, palanquin-bearing, and lime-burning. Some of them are employed by Government as peons (orderlies), etc., while a large number are engaged in agricultural pursuits. The Boyis obey a headman called the Pedda (big) Boyi. The Toraya does not intermarry either with the Kabyara or the Boyi, whom he resembles in every way. The Kabyara or Karnatic Besthas proper never carry the palanquin, but live by either farming or lime-burning. They have a headman known as the Yajaman.”

I have often seen Besthas in Mysore fishing on tanks from rafts, with floats made of cane or cork-wood supporting their fish-baskets. The Besthas use small cast-nets, and it is thought by them that the employment of drag-nets worked by several men would bring bad luck to them. When a new net is used for the first time, the first fish which is caught is cut, and the net smeared with its blood. One of the meshes of the net [221]is burnt, after incense has been thrown into the fire. If a snake becomes entangled in a net when it is first used, it is rejected, and burnt or otherwise disposed of.

The tribal deity of the Telugu Besthas is Kāmamma, and, when this goddess is worshipped, Māla Pambalas are engaged to recite the legendary story relating to her. They never offer the flesh of animals or liquor to the goddess.

Like other Telugu castes, the Besthas have intipērulu or exogamous septs and gōtras. In connection with some of the latter, certain prohibitions are observed. For example, the jasmine plant (mallē) may not be touched by members of the mallē gōtra, and the ippa tree (Bassia latifolia) may not be touched or used by members of the Ippala gōtra. Writing at the beginning of the last century, Buchanan60 informs us that “everywhere in Karnata the palanquin-bearers are of Telinga descent. In the language of Karnata they are called Teliga Besthas, but in their own dialect they are called Bai. Their proper occupations, beside that of carrying the palanquin, are fishing, and distillation of rum. Wealthy men among them become farmers, but none of the caste hire themselves out as farm servants. Their hereditary chiefs are called Pedde Bui, which, among the Europeans of Madras, is bestowed on the headman of every gentleman’s set.” In a note on the Bestha Bōyis, or fishermen bearers of Masulipatam in the days of the East India Company, Mr. H. G. Prendergast writes61 that they were “found to be peculiarly trustworthy servants. When their English masters went on promotion to Madras, they were accompanied by their trusty Bōyis, and, from that day to this, Bestha [222]Bōyis have been employed as attendants in public and mercantile offices in Madras, and have continued to maintain their good reputation.”

Of the use of the word Boy (a corruption of Bōyi) for palanquin-bearer, numerous examples are quoted by Yule and Burnell.62 Thus Carraccioli, in his life of Lord Clive, records that, in 1785, the Boys with Colonel Lawrence’s palankeen, having struggled a little out of the time of march, were picked up by the Marattas. Writing in 1563, Barras states63 that “there are men who carry the umbrella so dexterously to ward off the sun that, although their master trots on his horse, the sun does not touch any part of his body and such men are called Boi.”

The insigne of the Besthas, as recorded at Conjeeveram, is a net.64

Bēsyā (a prostitute).—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a sub-caste of Oriya Gūnis. It is a form of the word Vēsya.

Betta (hill).—A sub-division of Kurumba.

Bēvina.—Bēvina or Bēvā (nīm or margosa: Melia Azadirachta) has been recorded as an exogamous sept of Kuruba, and a sub-division of Kādu Kurumba. The nīm tree is held sacred by Hindus, and takes an important part in many of the ceremonials connected with the small-pox goddess and other village deities.

Bhāg (tiger).—A sept of numerous classes in Vizagapatam, e.g., Bhumia, Bottada, Domb, Gadaba, Mattiya, Omanaito, Pentiya, and Rōna. The equivalent Bhāgo occurs among some classes in Ganjam.

Bhāgavatulu.—Recorded as play-actors in the Telugu country. Their name is derived from the fact [223]that they perform stories and episodes from the Bhāgavatam, one of the Purānas.

Bhakta.—See Bagata.

Bhandāri.—See Kelasi.

Bhānde.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “a class of potters in the Ganjam Māliahs, a sub-division of Kumbhāro. The name is derived from the Sanskrit bhānda, a pot.”

Bharadwāja.—A Brāhmanical gōtra of Bhatrāzus. Bharadwāja was a rishi, the son of Brihaspati, and preceptor of the Pāndavas.

Bhātia.—Nearly four hundred members of this caste were returned at the Madras Census, 1901. It is recorded in the Bombay Gazetteer, that “the Bhātias claim to be Bhāti Rājputs of the Yādav stock. As a class they are keen, vigorous, enterprising, thrifty, subtle and unscrupulous. Some of the richest men in Bombay started life without a penny. A large number of Bhātias are merchant traders and brokers, and within the last fifty years they have become a very wealthy and important class.” Like the Nāttukōttai Chettis of Southern India, the Bhātias undertake sea voyages to distant countries, and they are to be found eastward as far as China.

Bhatta.—A sub-division of Gaudo.

Bhatkali.—A class of Muhammadans on the west coast, who are said to have originally settled at Bhatkal in North Canara.

Bhatrāzu.—The Bhāts, Bhatrāzus, or Bhatrājus are described, in the Mysore Census Reports, 1891 and 1901, as musicians and ballad-reciters, who “speak Telugu, and are supposed to have come from the Northern Circars. They were originally attached to the courts of the Hindu princes as bards or professional [224]troubadours, reciting ballads in poetry in glorification of the wondrous deeds of local princes and heroes. Hyder Ali, although not a Hindu, delighted to be constantly preceded by them, and they are still an appendage to the state of Hindu and Mussalman Chiefs. They have a wonderful faculty in speaking improvisatore, on any subject proposed to them, a declamation in measures, which may be considered as a sort of medium between blank verse and modulated verse. But their profession is that of chanting the exploits of former days in front of the troops while marshalling them for battle, and inciting them to emulate the glory of their ancestors. Now many of them are mendicants.”

In the Madras Census Report, 1871, the Bhat Rājahs are said to “wear the pavitra or sacred thread. They are the bards and minstrels, who sing the praises of the Kshatriya race, or indeed of great men in general, and especially of those who liberally reward the singers. They are a wandering class, gaining a living by attaching themselves to the establishments of great men, or in chanting the folklore of the people. They are mostly Vishnu worshippers, and in only one district is it reported that they worship village deities.” In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the Bhatrāzus are summed up as being “a class of professional bards, spread all over the Telugu districts. They are the representatives of the Bhāt caste of other parts of India. They are called Rāzus, because they are supposed to be the offspring of a Kshatriya female by a Vaisya male. They are well versed in folklore, and in the family histories and legends of the ancient Rājahs. Under the old Hindu Rājahs the Bhatrāzus were employed as bards, eulogists, and reciters of family genealogy and tradition. Most of them are now cultivators, and only a few are ballad-reciters. [225]They will eat with the Kāpus and Velamas. Their ceremonies of birth, death and marriage are more or less the same as those of the Kāpus. Rāzu is the general name of the caste.”

The Bhatrāzus, Mr. W. Francis writes,65 “are also called Bhāts or Māgadas. They have two endogamous sub-divisions, called Vandi, Rāja or Telagānya, and Māgada, Kani or Agrahārekala. [Some Bhatrāzus maintain that Vandi and Māgada were individuals who officiated as heralds at the marriage of Siva.] Each of these is again split up into several exogamous septs or gōtras, among which are Atrēya, Bhāradwāja, Gautama, Kāsyapa and Kaundinya. All of these are Brāhmanical gōtras, which goes to confirm the story in Manu that the caste is the offspring of a Vaisya father and a Kshatriya mother. Bhatrāzus nevertheless do not all wear the sacred thread now-a-days, or recite the gāyatri.66 They employ Brāhman priests for their marriages, but Jangams and Sātānis for funerals, and in all these ceremonies they follow the lower or Purānic instead of the higher Vēdic ritual. Widow marriage is strictly forbidden, but yet they eat fish, mutton and pork, though not beef. These contradictions are, however, common among Oriya castes, and the tradition is that the Bhatrāzus were a northern caste which was first invited south by King Pratāpa Rūdra of the Kshatriya dynasty of Wārangal (1295–1323 A.D.). After the downfall of that kingdom they seem to have become court bards and panegyrists under the Reddi and Velama feudal chiefs, who had by that time carved out for themselves small independent principalities in the Telugu country. As a class they were fairly educated in the Telugu [226]literature, and even produced poets such as Rāmarāja Bhūshana, the author of the well-known Vasu-Charitram. Their usual title is Bhat, sometimes with the affix Rāzu or Mūrti.”

Of the Bhatrāzus in the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart states67 that “they now live by cultivation, and by singing the fabulous traditions current regarding the different Sūdra castes at their marriages and other ceremonies, having probably invented most of them. They profess to be Kshatriyas. But it is known that several are Musalmans or members of other castes, who, possessing an aptitude for extempore versification, were taken by Rājahs to sing their praises, and so called themselves Bhatturāzus. They resemble the Rāzus in their customs, but are said to bury their dead.” In the Gazetteer of Anantapur, the Bhatrāzus are described as touring round the villages, making extempore verses in praise of the principal householders, and being rewarded by gifts of old clothes, grain, and money. It is stated in the Kurnool Manual that “the high-caste people (Kammas) are bound to pay the Batrājulu certain fees on marriage occasions. Some of the Batrājas have shotriems and ināms.” Shotriem is land given as a gift for proficiency in the Vēdas or learning, and inām is land given free of rent.

In connection with the special attachment of the Bhatrāzus to the Velama, Kamma, and Kāpu castes, the following story is narrated. Once upon a time there was a man named Pillala Marri Bethāla Reddi, who had three sons, of whom two took to cultivation. The third son adopted a military life, and had seventy-four sons, all of whom became commanders. On one occasion, during [227]the reign of Pratāpa Rūdra, when they were staying at the fort of Wārangal, they quarrelled among themselves, and became very rebellious. On learning this, the king summoned them to his court. He issued orders that a sword should be tied across the gate. The commanders were reluctant to go under a sword, as it would be a sign of humiliation. Some of them ran against the sword, and killed themselves. A Bhatrāzu, who witnessed this, promised to help the remaining commanders to gain entrance without passing under the sword. He went to the king, and said that a Brāhman wished to pay him a visit. An order was accordingly issued that the sword should be removed. The services of the Bhatrāzu greatly pleased the commanders, and they came to regard the Bhatrāzus as their dependants, and treated them with consideration. Even at the present day, at a marriage among the Kāpus, Kammas, and Velamas, a Bhatrāzu is engaged. His duties are to assist the bridegroom in his wedding toilette, to paint sectarian marks on his forehead, and to remain as his personal attendant throughout the marriage ceremonies. He further sings stanzas from the Rāmayana or Mahābhārata, and songs in praise of Brāhmans and the caste to which the bridal couple belong. The following was sung at a Kāpu wedding. “Anna Vema Reddi piled up money like a mountain, and, with his brother Pinna Brahma Reddi, constructed agrahārams. Gone Buddha Reddi spent large sums of money for the reading of the Rāmayana, and heard it with much interest. Panta Malla Reddi caused several tanks to be dug. You, their descendants, are all prosperous, and very charitable.” In the houses of Kammas, the following is recited. “Of the seventy-seven sons, Bobbali Narasanna was a very brave man, and was told to go in search of the [228]kamma (an ornament) without using abusive language. Those who ran away are Velamas, and those who secured it Kammas.”

In their ceremonial observances, the Bhatrāzus closely follow the standard Telugu type. At marriages, the bridal couple sit on the dais on a plank of juvvi (Ficus Tsiela) wood. They have the Telugu Janappans as their disciples, and are the only non-Brāhman caste, except Jangams and Pandārams, which performs the duties of guru or religious instructor. The badge of the Bhatrāzus at Conjeeveram is a silver stick.68

In the Madras Census Report, 1901, Bhāto, Kani Rāzu, Kannāji Bhāt and Padiga Rāju appear as synonyms, and Annāji Bhat as a sub-caste of Bhatrāzus.

The following account of a criminal class, calling themselves Batturājas or Battu Turakas, was published in the Police Weekly Circular, Madras, in 1881.69 “They are known to the Cuddapah and North Arcot Police as criminals, and a note is made whenever an adult leaves his village; but, as they commit their depredations far from home, and convert their spoil into hard cash before they return, it is difficult to get evidence against them. Ten or twelve of these leave home at once; they usually work in parties of three or four, and they are frequently absent for months together. They have methods of communicating intelligence to their associates when separated from them, but the only one of these methods that is known is by means of their leaf plates, which they sew in a peculiar manner, and leave after use in certain places previously agreed upon. These leaf plates can be recognised by experts, but all that these experts can learn from them is that Battu Turakas have been in [229]the neighbourhood recently. On their return to their village, an account of their proceedings is rendered, and their spoil is divided equally among the whole community, a double share being, however, given to the actual thief or thieves. They usually disguise themselves as Brāhmans, and, in the search of some of their houses lately, silk cloths worn only by Brāhmans were found together with other articles necessary for the purpose (rudrāksha necklaces, sālagrāma stones, etc.). They are also instructed in Sanskrit, and in all the outward requisites of Brāhmanism. A Telugu Brāhman would soon find out that they are not Brāhmans, and it is on this account that they confine their depredations to the Tamil country, where allowance is made for them as rude uncivilized Telugus. They frequent choultries (travellers’ resting-places), where their very respectable appearance disarms suspicion, and watch for opportunities of committing thefts, substituting their own bags or bundles (filled with rubbish) for those they carry off.” To this account Mr. M. Paupa Rao Naidu adds70 that “it is during festivals and feasts that they very often commit thefts of the jewels and cloths of persons bathing in the tanks. They are thus known as Kolamchuthi Pāpar, meaning that they are Brāhmins that live by stealing around the tanks. Before the introduction of railways, their depredations were mostly confined to the choultries and tanks.”

Concerning the Bhattu Turakas of the North Arcot district, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes71 that “a few of this very intelligent and educated criminal class are found in the north-west of the Chendragiri tāluk, and in the north of Punganūr. They are really Muhammadans, but [230]never worship according to the rules of that religion, and know little about its tenets. They have no employment save cheating, and in this they are incomparably clever. They speak several languages with perfect fluency, have often studied Sanskrit, and are able to personate any caste. Having marked down a well-to-do householder, they take an opportunity of entering his service, and succeed at last in gaining his confidence. They then abuse it by absconding with what they can lay hands upon. They often take to false coining and forgery, pretend to know medicine, to have the power of making gold or precious stones, or of turning currency notes into others of higher value.”

Bhāyipuo.—Bhāyipuo is returned, in the Census Report, 1901, as an Oriya caste, the members of which claim to be Kshatriyas. The word means brother’s son, in which sense it is applied to the issue of the brothers of Rājahs by concubines. The illegitimate children of Rājahs are also classed as Bhāyipuo.

Bhima.—A section of Savaras, named after Bhima, one of the Pāndava brothers.

Bholia (wild dog).—An exogamous sept of Kondra.

Bhondāri.—The Bhondāris are the barbers of the Oriya country, living in Ganjam. “The name Bhondāri,” Mr. S. P. Rice writes,72 is “derived from bhondaram, treasure. The zamindars delivered over the guarding of the treasure to the professional barbers, who became a more important person in this capacity than in his original office of shaver in ordinary to His Highness.” The Bhondāris occupy a higher position than the Tamil and Telugu barbers. Though various Oriya castes bathe after being shaved, the touch of a Bhondāri at [231]other times is not regarded as polluting. All over the Ganjam district, the Bhondāris are employed as domestic servants, and some are engaged as coolies, cart-drivers, etc. Others officiate as pūjāris (priests) at Takurāni (village deity) temples, grind sandalwood, or make flower garlands. On the occasion of ceremonial processions, the washing of the feet of the guests, carrying articles required for worship, and the jewels and cloths to be worn by the bridal couple on the wedding day, are performed by the Bhondāri. I am informed that a woman of this caste is employed by Karnams on the occasion of marriage and other ceremonials, at which her services are indispensable. It is said that in some places, where the Bhondāris do not shave castes lower than the Gudiyas, Oriya Brāhmans allow them to remove the leaf plates off which they have taken their food, though this should not be done by a non-Brāhman.

There are apparently three endogamous sub-divisions, named Godomalia, Odisi, and Bejjo. The word Godomalia means a group of forts, and it is said to be the duty of members of this section to serve Rājahs who live in forts. The Godomalias are most numerous in Ganjam, where they claim to be superior to the Odisi and Bejjo sections. Among exogamous septs, Mohiro (peacock), Dhippo (light), Oppomarango (Achyranthes aspera), and Nāgasira (cobra) may be noted. Members of the Oppomarango sept do not touch, or use the root of the plant as a tooth brush. Lights may not be blown out with the breath, or otherwise extinguished by members of the Dhippo sept; and they do not light their lamps unless they are madi, i.e., wearing silk cloths, or cloths washed and dried after bathing. Nāgasira is a sept common to many Oriya castes, and is said to owe its origin to the influence of Oriya Brāhmans. [232]

The hereditary headman of the caste is called Bēhara, and he is assisted by a Bhollobaya. Most of the Bhondāris follow the form of Vaishnavism inculcated by Chaithyana, and known as Paramartho matham. They wear as a necklace a string of tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) beads, without which they will not worship or take their food. Many Hindu deities, especially Jagannātha, and various local Tākurānis are also worshipped by them.

A man should not marry his maternal uncle’s or paternal aunt’s daughter. Infant marriage is the rule, and, if a girl has not secured a husband before she attains maturity, she has to go through a mock marriage ceremony called dharma bibha. She is taken to a Streblus asper (sahāda or shādi) tree, and married to it. She may not, during the rest of her life, touch the Streblus tree, or use its twigs as a tooth brush. Sometimes she goes through the ceremony of marriage with some elderly man, preferably her grandfather, or, failing him, her elder sister’s husband as bridegroom. A divorce agreement (tsado patro) is drawn up, and the pseudo-marriage thereby dissolved. Sometimes the bridegroom is represented by a bow and arrow, and the ceremony is called khando bibha.

The real marriage ceremonies last over seven days. On the day before the bibha (wedding), a number of earthen pots are placed on a spot which has been cleaned for their reception, and some married women throw Zizyphus Jujuba leaves and rice, apparently as an evil-eye removing and purificatory ceremony. While doing so, they cry “Ūlu, ulu” in a manner which recalls to mind the kulavi idal of the Maravans and Kallans. A ceremony, called sokko bhondo, or wheel worship, is performed to a potter’s wheel. The bridegroom, who [233]has to fast until the night, is shaved, after which he stands on a grindstone and bathes. While he is so doing, some women bring a grinding-mill stone, and grind to powder Vigna Catiang, Cajanus indicus and Cicer arietinum seeds, crying “Ūlu, ulu,” as they do so. The bridegroom then dresses himself, and sits on the marriage dais, while a number of married women crowd round him, each of whom touches an areca nut placed on his head seven times with a grinding stone. They also perform the ceremony called bhondaivaro, which consists in throwing Zizyphus Jujuba leaves, and rice dyed with turmeric, over the bridegroom, again calling out “Ūlu, ulu.” Towards evening, the bridegroom’s party proceed in procession to a temple, taking with them the various articles required on the morrow, such as the sacred thread, jewels, cloths, and mokkuto (forehead ornament). After worshipping the god, they return home, and on the way thither collect water in a vessel from seven houses, to be used by the bridegroom when he bathes next day. A ceremonial very similar to that performed by the bridegroom on the eve of the wedding is also performed by the bride and her party. On the wedding day, the bridegroom, after worshipping Vignēswara (Ganēsa) at the marriage dais with the assistance of a Brāhman purōhit, proceeds, dressed up in his marriage finery, mokkuto, sacred thread and wrist thread, to a temple in a palanquin, and worships there. Later on, he goes to the bride’s house in a palanquin. Just as he is about to start, his brother’s wife catches hold of the palanquin, and will not let him go till she has received a present of a new cloth. He is met en route by the bride’s father, and his feet are washed by her brother. His future father-in-law, after waving seven balls of coloured rice before him, escorts him to his house. At [234]the entrance thereto, a number of women, including the bride’s mother, await his arrival, and, on his approach, throw Zizyphus Jujuba leaves, and cry “Ūlu, ulu.” His future mother-in-law, taking him by the hand, leads him into the house. As soon as he has reached the marriage dais, the bride is conducted thither by her maternal uncle, and throws some salt over a screen on to the bridegroom. Later on, she takes her seat by his side, and the Brāhman purōhit, after doing hōmam (making sacred fire), ties the hands of the contracting couple together with dharbha grass. This is called hastagonthi, and is the binding portion of the marriage ceremony. The bride and bridegroom then exchange ten areca nuts and ten myrabolams (Terminalia fruits). Two new cloths are thrown over them, and the ends thereof are tied together in a knot containing twenty-one cowry (Cypræa Arabica) shells, a coin, and a few Zizyphus leaves. This ceremonial is called gontiyalo. The bride’s brother strikes the bridegroom with his fist, and receives a present of a cloth. At this stage, the couple receive presents from relations and friends. They then play seven times with cowry shells, and the ceremonial closes with the throwing of Zizyphus leaves, and the eating by the bride and bridegroom of rice mixed with jaggery (crude sugar) and curds. On the two following days, they sit on the dais, play with cowries, and have leaves and rice thrown over them. They wear the cloths given to them on the wedding day, and may not bathe in a tank (pond) or river. On the fourth day (chauti), the bride is received into the gōtra of the bridegroom. In token thereof, she cooks some food given to her by the bridegroom, and the pair make a show of partaking thereof. Towards the evening the bride is conducted by her maternal uncle to near the [235]dais, and she stands on a grinding stone. Seven turns of thread dyed with turmeric are wound round the posts of the dais. Leading his wife thither, the bridegroom cuts the thread, and the couple stand on the dais, while four persons support a cloth canopy over their heads, and rice is scattered over them. On the fifth day, the newly-married couple and their relations indulge in throwing turmeric water over each other. Early on the morning of the sixth day, the bridegroom breaks a pot placed on the dais, and goes away in feigned anger to the house of a relation. Towards evening, he is brought back by his brother-in-law, and plays at cowries with the bride. The Bhondaivaro ceremony is once more repeated. On the seventh day, the sacred thread, wrist-threads and mokkuto are removed. Widows and divorcées are permitted to remarry. As among various other castes, a widow should marry her deceased husband’s younger brother.

The dead are cremated. When a person is on the point of death, a little Jagannātha prasādam, i.e., rice from the temple at Puri, is placed in his mouth. Members of many Oriya castes keep by them partially cooked rice, called nirmālyam, brought from this temple, and a little of this is eaten by the orthodox before meals and after bathing. The corpse is washed, anointed, and wrapped in a new cloth. After it has been secured on the bier, a new red cloth is thrown over it. At the head, a sheaf of straw, from the roof of the house, if it is thatched, is placed. The funeral pyre is generally prepared by an Oriya washerman. At the burning-ground, the corpse is placed close to the pyre, and the son puts into the mouth some parched rice, and throws rice over the eyes. Then, lighting the straw, he waves it thrice round the corpse, and throws it on the face. The corpse is then [236]carried thrice round the pyre, and laid thereon. In the course of cremation, each mourner throws a log on the pyre. The son goes home, wet and dripping, after bathing. On the following day, the fire is extinguished, and two fragments of bone are placed in a small pot, and carefully preserved. The ashes are heaped up, and an image is drawn on the ground with a stick, to which food is offered. A meal, called pithapona (bitter food), consisting of rice and margosa (Melia Azadirachta) leaves, is partaken of by agnates only. On the tenth day, the relatives and intimate friends of the deceased are shaved, the son last of all. The son and the agnates go to a tank bund (pond embankment), and cook food in a new pot within a shed which has been specially constructed for the occasion. The pot is then broken into ten fragments, on which food is placed, and offered to the dead person. The son takes the fragments, one by one, to the tank, bathing each time. The pot containing the two pieces of bone is generally buried beneath a pīpal (Ficus religiosa) tree growing near a tank. On the tenth day, after the offering of food, the son proceeds to this spot, and, after pouring water ten times over the ground beneath which the pot is buried, takes the pot home, and buries it near the house. As he approaches his home, he goes ahead of those who accompany him, and, carrying a vessel filled with water, pours some of this three times on the ground, waving his hand in a circular manner. He then makes three marks with a piece of iron on the ground. A piece of hollow bamboo open at both ends, or other grain measure, is given to him, with which he measures rice or other grain seven times. He then throws the measure behind him between his legs, and, entering the house, puts a sect mark on his forehead with the aid of a broken looking-glass, which must be [237]thrown away. Ghī (clarified butter) and meat may not be eaten by those under death pollution till the eleventh day, when a feast is held.

If an important elder of the community dies, a ceremony called jola-jola handi (pot drilled with holes) is performed on the night of the tenth day. Fine sand is spread over the floor of a room having two doors, and the surface is smoothed with a tray or plank. On the sand a lighted lamp is placed, with an areca nut by its side. The lamp is covered with an earthen cooking-pot. Two men carry on their shoulders a pot riddled with holes, suspended from a pole made of Diospyros Embryopteris wood, from inside the room into the street, as soon as the lamp is covered by the cooking-pot. Both doors of the room are then closed, and not opened till the return of the men. The pot which they carry is believed to increase in weight as they bear it to a tank, into which it is thrown. On their return to the house, they tap three times at the door, which then opens. All present then crowd into the room, and examine the sand for the marks of the foot-prints of a bull, cat or man, the trail of a centipede, cart-track, ladder, etc., which are believed to be left by the dead person when he goes to the other world.

Opprobrious names are very common among the Bhondāris, especially if a child is born after a succession of deaths among the offspring of a family. Very common among such names are those of low castes, e.g., Haddi, Bavuria, Dandāsi, etc.

Bhonjo.—The title of the Rāja of Gumsūr in Ganjam.

Bhūmanchi (good earth).—A sub-division of Kāpu.

Bhū (earth) Rāzu.—A name for Rāzus who live in the plains, in contradistinction to the Konda Rāzus who live in the hills. [238]

Bhū Vaisya (earth Vaisya).—A name returned by some Nāttukōttai Chettis and Vellālas.

Bhūmi Dhompthi.—The name, meaning earth marriage offering, of a sub-division of Mādigas, at whose marriages the offering of food is placed on the ground.

Bhūmi Rāzulu (kings of the earth).—A name assumed by some Koyis.

Bhūmia.—The Bhūmias are an Oriya caste of hill cultivators, found in the Jeypore Zamindāri. According to a tradition, they were the first to cultivate the land on the hills. In the Central Provinces they are said to be known as Baigas, concerning whom Captain Ward writes73 that “the decision of the Baiga in a boundary dispute is almost always accepted as final, and, from this right as children of the soil and arbiters of the land belonging to each village, they are said to have derived their title of Bhūmia, the Sanskrit bhūmi meaning the earth.”

For the following note I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. The Bhūmias have septs, e.g., bhāg (tiger) and nāga (cobra). A man can claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage. The marriage ceremonial is much the same as among the Bottadas. The jholla tonk (presents) consist of liquor, rice, a sheep or fowl, and cloths for the parents of the bride. A pandal (booth), made of poles of the sorghi tree, is erected in front of the bridegroom’s house, and a Dēsāri officiates. The remarriage of widows is permitted and a younger brother usually marries his elder brother’s widow. If a man divorces his wife, it is customary for him to give her a rupee and a new cloth in compensation. The dead are burned, and pollution lasts for nine days. On the tenth [239]day a ceremonial bath is taken, and a feast, with copious supplies of liquor, is held. In parts of the Central Provinces the dead are buried, and two or three flat stones are set up over the grave.74

Bhuri.—A sub-division of Gond.

Bījam (seed).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Bilpathri (bael: Ægle Marmelos).—An exogamous sept of Bōya.

Bindhani (workman).—A title of Oriya Badhōyis, and sometimes used as the name of the caste.

Bingi.—The Bingivāndlu are described, in the Kurnool Manual, as a class of mendicants, who play dramas. Some of them have shrotiyam villages, as Lingineni Doddi in Pattikonda. “Shrotiyam” has been defined75 as “lands, or a village, held at a favourable rate, properly an assignment of land or revenue to a Brāhman learned in the Vēdas, but latterly applied generally to similar assignments to native servants of the government, civil or military, and both Hindus and Muhammadans, as a reward for past services.”

Bhūtiannaya (ashes).—An exogamous sept of Bant.

Bidāru (wanderers).—A sub-division of Odde.

Bilimagga.—The Bilimagga weavers of South Canara, who speak a very corrupt form of Tamil, must not be confused with the Bilimaggas of Mysore, whose mother-tongue is Canarese. In some places the Bilimaggas of South Canara call themselves Padma Sālēs, but they have no connection with the Padma Sālē caste. There is a tradition that they emigrated from Pāndiya Maduradēsa in the Tamil country. The caste name Bilimagga (white loom) is derived from the fact that they weave only white cloths. In some places, for the [240]same reason, Dēvāngas call themselves Bilimaggas, but the Dēvāngas also make coloured cloths. White cloths are required for certain gods and bhūthas (devils) on occasions of festivals, and these are usually obtained from Bilimaggas.

The Bilimaggas follow the makkala santāna law of inheritance (from father to son). They are said to have seven gōtras, and those of the Mangalore, Kundapūr, and Udipi tāluks, are stated to belong respectively to the 800, 700, and 500 nagaras. The caste deities are Vīrabhadra, Brahmalinga, and Ammanoru.

For the whole community, there is a chief headman called Paththukku Solra Settigar, or the Setti who advises the ten, and for every village there is an ordinary headman styled Gurikāra. The chief headman is usually the manager of some temple of the caste, and the Gurikāra has to collect the dues from the members of the community. Every married couple has to pay an annual tax of twelve annas, and every unmarried male over twelve years of age of six annas towards the temple fund.

Marriage of girls before puberty is the rule, and any girl who attains maturity without being married runs the risk of losing her caste. The remarriage of widows is permitted. The betrothal ceremony is important as being binding as a contract. It consists in the father of the girl giving betel leaves and areca nuts in a tray to the father of her future husband, before a number of people. If the contract is dissolved before the marriage is celebrated, betel and nuts must be presented to the father of the girl, in the presence of an assembly, as a sign that the engagement is broken off. On the day previous to the marriage ceremonial, the fathers of the contracting couple exchange betel leaves and areca nuts [241]three times. On the following morning, they proceed to the house of the bridegroom, the bride’s father carrying a brass vessel containing water. From this vessel, water is poured into smaller vessels by an odd number of women (five or more). These women are usually selected by the wife of the headman. The pouring of the water must be carried out according to a recognised code of precedence, which varies with the locality. At Udipi, for example, the order is Mangalore, Barkūr, Udipi. The women all pour water over the head of the bridegroom.

The rite is called mariyāthe nīru (water for respect). The bridegroom is then decorated, and a bāshingam (chaplet) is placed on his forehead. He sits in front of a brass vessel, called Ganapathi (the elephant god), which is placed on a small quantity of rice spread on the floor, and worships it. He is then conducted to the marriage pandal (booth) by his sister’s husband, followed by his sister carrying the brass vessel and a gindi (vessel with a spout), to which the bride’s bāshingam and the tāli (marriage badge) are tied. A red cloth, intended for the bride, must also be carried by her. Within the pandal, the bridegroom stands in front of a cot. The bride’s party, and the men in attendance on the bridegroom, stand opposite each other with the bridegroom between them, and throw rice over each other. All are then seated, except the bridegroom, his sister, and the bride’s brother. The bridegroom’s father waves incense in front of the cot and brass vessel, and hands over the gindi, and other articles, to the bridegroom’s sister, to be taken to the bride. Lights and ārathi water are waved before the bridegroom, and, while the bride’s father holds his hands, her brother washes his feet. He then goes seven times round the cot, after he has [242]worshipped it, and broken cocoanuts, varying in number according to the nagara to which he belongs—seven if he is a member of the seven hundred nagara, and so on. He next takes his seat on the cot, and is joined by the bride, who has had the bāshingam put on her forehead, and the tāli tied on her neck, by the bridegroom’s sister. Those assembled then call the maternal uncles of the bridal couple, and they approach the cot. The bridegroom’s uncle gives the red cloth already referred to to the uncle of the bride. The bride retires within the house, followed by her maternal uncle, and sits cross-legged, holding her big toes with her hands. Her uncle throws the red cloth over her head, and she covers her face with it. This is called dēvagiri udugarē. The uncle then carries her to the pandal, and she sits on the left of the bridegroom. The Gurikāra asks the maternal uncle of the bridegroom to hand over the bride’s money, amounting to twelve rupees or more. He then requests permission of the three nagara people, seven gōtra people, and the relatives of the bride and bridegroom to proceed with the dhāre ceremony. This being accorded, the maternal uncles unite the hands of the pair, and, after the cloth has been removed from the bride’s face, the dhāre water is poured over their hands, first by the bride’s father, and then by the Gurikāra, who, while doing so, declares the union of the couple according to the observances of the three nagaras. Those assembled throw rice on, and give presents to the bride and bridegroom. The presents are called moi, and the act of giving them moi baikradhu (Tamil). Some women wave ārathi, and the pair go inside the house, and sit on a mat. Some milk is given to the bridegroom by the bride’s sister, and, after sipping a little of it, he gives it to the bride. They then return to the pandal, and sit on [243]the cot. Rice is thrown over their heads, and ārathi waved in front of them. The bridegroom drops a ring into a tray, and turmeric-water is poured over it. The couple search for the ring. The wedding ceremonies are brought to a close by bathing in turmeric-water (vokli bath), after which the couple sit on the cot, and those assembled permit the handing over of the bride to the bridegroom’s family (pennu oppuchchu kodukradhu).

Any number of marriages, except three or seven, may be carried on simultaneously beneath a single pandal. If there are more than a single bridal couple, the bāshingam is worn only by the pair who are the elder, or held in most respect. Sometimes, one couple is allowed to wear the bāshingam, and another to have the dhāre water first poured over them.

The dead are cremated. The corpse is carried to the burning-ground on a bier, with a tender plantain leaf placed beneath it. Fire is carried not by the son, but by some other near relative. The ashes are collected on the third day, and a mound (dhūpe) is made therewith. Daily until the final death ceremony, a tender cocoanut, and water in a vessel, are placed near it. In the final death ceremony (bojja), the Bilimaggas closely follow the Bants, except as regards the funeral car. To get rid of death pollution, a Tulu Madivāli (washerman caste) gives cloths to, and sprinkles water over those under pollution.

The caste title is Setti or Chetti.

Billai-kavu (cat-eaters).—Said to be Māla Paidis, who eat cats.

Billava.—The Billavas are the Tulu-speaking toddy-drawers of the South Canara district. It is noted, in the Manual, that they are “the numerically largest caste in the district, and form close upon one-fifth of the total [244]population. The derivation of the word Billava, as commonly accepted in the district, is that it is a contraction of Billinavaru, bowmen, and that the name was given as the men of that caste were formerly largely employed as bowmen by the ancient native rulers of the district. There is, however, no evidence whatever, direct or indirect, to show that the men of the toddy-drawing caste were in fact so employed. It is well known that, both before and after the Christian era, there were invasions and occupations of the northern part of Ceylon by the races then inhabiting Southern India, and Malabar tradition tells that some of these Dravidians migrated from Īram or Ceylon northwards to Travancore and other parts of the West Coast of India, bringing with them the cocoanut or southern tree (tenginamara), and being known as Tīvars (islanders) or Īravars, which names have since been altered to Tīyars and Ilavars. This derivation would also explain the name Dīvaru or Halepaik Dīvaru borne by the same class of people in the northern part of the district, and in North Canara. In Manjarabad above the ghauts, which, with Tuluva, was in olden days under the rule of the Humcha family, known later as the Bairasu Wodears of Kārakal, they are called Dēvaru Makkalu, literally God’s children, but more likely a corruption of Tīvaru Makkalu, children of the islanders. In support of this tradition, Mr. Logan has pointed out76 that, in the list of exports from Malabar given in the Periplus, in the first century A.D., no mention is made of the cocoanut. It was, however, mentioned by Cosmos Indico Pleustes (522 to 547 A.D.), and from the Syrian Christians’ copper-plate grants, early in the ninth century, it [245]appears that the Tiyans were at that time an organised guild of professional planters. Although the cocoanut tree may have been introduced by descendants of immigrants from Ceylon moving up the coast, the practice of planting and drawing toddy was no doubt taken up by the ordinary Tulu cultivators, and, whatever the origin of the name Billava may be, they are an essentially Tulu class of people, following the prevailing rule that property vests in females, and devolves in the female line.”

It is worthy of note that the Billavas differ from the Tīyans in one very important physical character—the cranial type. For, as shown by the following table, whereas the Tīyans are dolichocephalic the Billavas are, like other Tulu classes, sub-brachycephalic:—

Cephalic Index.

Average. Maximum. Minimum. Number of times exceeding 80.
40 Tiyans 73 78.7 68.5 1
50 Billavas 80 91.5 71 28

Some Billavas about Udipi call themselves either Billavaru or Halēpaikaru. But the Halēpaiks proper are toddy-drawers, who are found in the Kundapūr tāluk, and speak Kanarese. There are said to be certain differences between the two classes in the method of carrying out the process of drawing toddy. For example, the Halēpaiks generally grasp the knife with the fingers directed upwards and the thumb to the right, while the Billavas hold the knife with the fingers directed downwards and the thumb to the left. A Billava at Udipi had a broad iron knife with a round hole at the base, by which it was attached to an iron hook fixed on to a rope worn round the loins. For crushing the flower-buds [246]within the spathe of the palm, Billavas generally use a stone, and the Halēpaiks a bone. There is a belief that, if the spathe is beaten with the bone of a buffalo which has been killed by a tiger, the yield of toddy will, if the bone has not touched the ground, be greater than if an ordinary bone is used. The Billavas generally carry a long gourd, and the Halēpaiks a pot, for collecting the toddy in.

Baidya and Pūjāri occur as caste names of the Billavas, and also as a suffix to the name, e.g., Saiyina Baidya, Bomma Pūjāri. Baidya is said to be a form of Vaidya, meaning a physician. Some Billavas officiate as priests (pūjāris) at bhūtasthānas (devil shrines) and garidis. Many of these pūjāris are credited with the power of invoking the aid of bhūtas, and curing disease. The following legend is narrated, to account for the use of the name Baidya. A poor woman once lived at Ullal with two sons. A Sanyāsi (religious ascetic), pitying their condition, took the sons as his sishyas, with a view to training them as magicians and doctors. After some time, the Sanyāsi went away from Ullal for a short time, leaving the lads there with instructions that they should not be married until his return. In spite of his instructions, however, they married, and, on his return, he was very angry, and went away again, followed by his two disciples. On his journey, the Sanyāsi crossed the ferry near Ullal on foot. This the disciples attempted to do, and were on the point of drowning when the Sanyāsi threw three handfuls of books on medicine and magic. Taking these, the two disciples returned, and became learned in medicine and magic. They are supposed to be the ancestors of the Billavas.

The Billavas, like the Bants, have a number of exogamous septs (balis) running in the female line. [247]There is a popular belief that these are sub-divisions of the twenty balis which ought to exist according to the Aliya Santāna system (inheritance in the female line).

The caste has a headman called Gurikāra, whose office is hereditary, and passes to the aliya (sister’s son). Affairs which affect the community as a whole are discussed at a meeting held at the bhūtasthāna or garidi.

At the betrothal ceremony, the bride-price (sirdachi), varying from ten to twenty rupees, is fixed. A few days before the wedding, the maternal uncle of the bride, or the Gurikāra, ties a jewel on her neck, and a pandal (booth) is erected, and decorated by the caste barber (parēl maddiyali) with cloths of different colours. If the bridegroom is an adult, the bride has to undergo a purificatory ceremony a day or two before the marriage (dhāre) day. A few women, usually near relations of the girl, go to a tank (pond) or well near a Bhūtasthāna or garidi, and bring water thence in earthenware pots. The water is poured over the head of the girl, and she bathes. On the wedding day, the bride and bridegroom are seated on two planks placed on the dais. The barber arranges the various articles, such as lights, rice, flowers, betel leaves and areca nuts, and a vessel filled with water, which are required for the ceremonial. He joins the hands of the contracting couple, and their parents, or the headman, place the nose-screw of the bridesmaid on their hands, and pour the dhāre water over them. This is the binding part of the ceremony, which is called kai (hand) dhāre. Widow remarriage is called bidu dhāre, and the pouring of water is omitted. The bride and bridegroom stand facing each other, and a cloth is stretched between them. The headman unites their hands beneath the screen. [248]

If a man has intercourse with a woman, and she becomes pregnant, he has to marry her according to the bidu dhāre rite. Before the marriage ceremony is performed, he has to grasp a plantain tree with his right hand, and the tree is then cut down.

At the first menstrual period, a girl is under pollution for ten or twelve days. On the first day, she is seated within a square (muggu), and five or seven cocoanuts are tied together so as to form a seat. A new earthenware pot is placed at each corner of the square. Four girls from the Gurikāra’s house sit at the corners close to the pots. Betel leaves, areca nuts, and turmeric paste are distributed among the assembled females, and the girls pour water from the pots over the head of the girl. Again, on the eleventh or the thirteenth day, the girl sits within the square, and water is poured over her as before. She then bathes.

The dead are usually cremated, though, in some cases, burial is resorted to. The corpse is washed and laid on a plantain leaf, and a new cloth is thrown over it. Some paddy (unhusked rice) is heaped up near the head and feet, and cocoanut cups containing lighted wicks are placed thereon. All the relations and friends assembled at the house dip leafy twigs of the tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) in water, and allow it to drop into the mouth of the corpse. The body is carried on a plank to the burning-ground. The collection of wood for the pyre, or the digging of the grave, is the duty of Holeyas. The wood of Strychnos Nux-vomica should never be used for the pyre. This is lighted by placing fire at the two ends thereof. When the flames meet in the middle, the plantain leaf, paddy, etc., which have been brought from the house, are thrown into them. On the fifth day, the ashes are collected, and buried on [249]the spot. If the body has been buried, a straw figure is made, and burnt over the grave, and the ashes are buried there. A small conical mound, called dhūpe, is made there, and a tulsi plant stuck in it. By the side of the plant a tender cocoanut with its eyes opened, tobacco leaf, betel leaves and areca nuts are placed. On the thirteenth day, the final death ceremonies, or bojja, are performed. On the evening of the previous day, four poles, for the construction of the upparige or gudikattu (car), are planted round the dhūpe. At the house, on or near the spot where the deceased breathed his last, a small bamboo car, in three tiers, is constructed, and decorated with coloured cloths. This car is called Nīrneralu. A lamp is suspended from the car, and a cot placed on the ground beneath it, and the jewels and clothes of the dead person are laid thereon. On the following morning, the upparige is constructed, with the assistance of the caste barber. A small vessel, filled with water, is placed within the Nīrneralu. The sons-in-law of the deceased receive a present of new cloths, and, after bathing, they approach the Nīrneralu. The chief mourner takes the vessel from within it, and pours the water at the foot of a cocoanut tree. The chief Gurikāra pours some water into the empty vessel, and the chief mourner places it within the Nīrneralu. Then seven women measure out some rice three times, and pour the rice into a tray held by three women. The rice is taken to a well, and washed, and then brought back to the car. Jaggery (crude sugar) and cocoanut scrapings are mixed with the rice, which is placed in a cup by seven women. The cup is deposited within the car on the cot. The wife or husband of the deceased throws a small quantity of rice into the cup. She turns the cup, and a ladle placed by its side, upside [250]down, and covers them with a plantain leaf. The various articles are collected, and tied up in a bundle, which is placed in a palanquin, and carried in procession, by two men to the upparige, which has been constructed over the dhūpe. Nalkes and Paravas (devil-dancers), dressed up as bhūtas, may follow the procession. Those present go thrice round the upparige, and the chief mourner unties the bundle, and place its contents on the car. The near relations put rice, and sometimes vegetables, pumpkins, and plantains, on the plantain leaf. All present then leave the spot, and the barber removes the cloths from the car, and pulls it down. Sometimes, if the dead person has been an important member of the community, a small car is constructed, and taken in procession round the upparige. On the fourteenth day, food is offered to crows, and the death ceremonies are at an end.

If a death occurs on an inauspicious day, a ceremony called Kāle deppuni (driving away the ghost) is performed. Ashes are spread on the floor of the house, and the door is closed. After some time, or on the following day, the roof of the house is sprinkled with turmeric water, and beaten with twigs of Zizyphus Œnoplia. The door is then opened, and the ashes are examined, to see if the marks of the cloven feet of the ghost are left thereon. If the marks are clear, it is a sign that the ghost has departed; otherwise a magician is called in to drive it out. A correspondent naively remarks that, when he has examined the marks, they were those of the family cat.

In some cases, girls who have died unmarried are supposed to haunt the house, and bring trouble thereto, and they must be propitiated by marriage. The girl’s relations go in search of a dead boy, and take from the [251]house where he is a quarter of an anna, which is tied up between two spoons. The spoons are tied to the roof of the girl’s house. This represents the betrothal ceremony. A day is fixed for the marriage, and, on the appointed day, two figures, representing the bride and bridegroom, are drawn on the floor, with the hands lying one on the other. A quarter-anna, black beads, bangles, and a nose-screw, are placed on the hands, and water is poured on them. This is symbolical of the dhāre ceremony, and completes the marriage.

The pūjāris of all the bhūthasthānas and garidis are Billavas. The bhūtha temples called garidis belong to the Billavas, and the bhūthas are the Baidērukulu (Koti and Chennayya), Brimmeru (or Brahmeru) Gunda, Okka Ballāla, Kujumba Ganja, and Dēvanajiri. The Baidērkulu are believed to be fellow castemen of the Billavas, and Koti and Chennayya to be descended from an excommunicated Brāhman girl and a Billava. The legend of Koti and Chennayya is recorded at length by Mr. A. C. Burnell in the Indian Antiquary.77 The bhūthas are represented by idols. Brimmeru is the most important, and the others are subordinate to him. He is represented by a plate of silver or other metal, bearing the figure of a human being, which is kept within a car-like stone structure within the shrine. On its left are two human figures made of clay or stone, which represent the Baidērukulu. On the right are a man on horseback, and another figure, representing Okka Ballala and Kujumba Ganja. Other idols are also set up at the garidi, but outside the main room. They seem to vary in different localities, and represent bhūthas such as Jumadi, Pancha Jumadi, Hosabhūtha, Kallurti, etc. [252]Brimmeru has been transformed, by Brāhman ingenuity, into Brahma, and all the bhūthas are converted into Gōnas, or attendants on Siva. In the pardhanas (devil songs) Brimmeru is represented as the principal bhūtha, and the other bhūthas are supposed to visit his sthāna. A bhūthasthāna never contains idols, but cots are usually found therein. A sthāna may be dedicated to a single bhūtha, or to several bhūthas, and the number may be ascertained by counting the number of cots, of which each is set apart for a single bhūtha. If the sthāna is dedicated to more than one bhūtha, the bhūthas are generally Kodamanithāya, Kukkinathāya, and Daiva. All the arrangements for the periodical kōla, or festival of the bhūthasthāna, are made by the pūjāri. During the festival, he frequently becomes possessed. Only such Billavas as are liable to be possessed are recognised as pūjāris. As a sign of their office, they wear a gold bangle on the right wrist. Further details in connection with bhūtha worship will be found in the articles on Bants, Nalkes, and Paravas.

Bilva (jackal).—An exogamous sept of Kondra.

Bindhollu (brass water-pot).—An exogamous sept of Jōgi.

Binu (roll of woollen thread).—An exogamous sept of Kuruba.

Bissoyi.—The Parlakimedi Māliahs are, I am informed, divided up into muttahs, and each muttah contains many villages, all ruled over by a Bissoyi, a sort of feudal chief, who is responsible for keeping them in order. Concerning the Bissoyis, Mr. S. P. Rice writes78 that in the Māliahs “are a number of forts, in which the Bissoyis, or hill chieftains, reside. Each of [253]them holds a small court of his own; each has his armed retainers, and his executive staff. They were set to rule over the hill tracts, to curb the lawlessness of the aboriginal tribes of the mountains, the Khonds and the Savaras. They were, in fact, lords of the marches, and were in a measure independent, but they appear to have been under the suzerainty of the Rāja of Kimedi, and they were also generally responsible to Government. Such men were valuable friends and dangerous enemies. Their influence among their own men was complete; their knowledge of their own country was perfect. It was they, and they only, who could thread their way through the tangled and well-nigh impenetrable jungle by foot-paths known only to themselves. Hence, when they became enemies, they could entrench themselves in positions which were almost impenetrable. Now a road leads to every fort; the jungles have disappeared; the Bissoyis still have armed retainers, and still keep a measure of respect; but their sting is gone, and the officer of Government goes round every year on the peaceful, if prosaic occupation of examining schools and inspecting vaccination.” The story of the Parlakimedi rebellion, “a forgotten rebellion” as he calls it, in the last century, and the share which the Bissoyis took in it, is graphically told by Mr. Rice.

At times of census, Bissoyi has been returned as a title of Doluva, Kālingi, Kurumo, and Sondi.

Biswālo.—A title of various Oriya castes.

Bochchu (hairs).—An exogamous sept of Odde.

Bōda.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small cultivating class in Ganjam. Bōda is the name of a sub-division of the Gadabas, who use the fibre of boda luvāda (Ficus glomerata) in the manufacture of their female garments. [254]

Bōda Dāsari (bald-headed mendicant).—An exogamous sept of Jōgi.

Boddu (navel).—An exogamous sept, or sub-division of Idigas and Asilis. It is recorded in the Gazetteer of the Bellary district, that “in the middle of the threshold of nearly all the gateways of the ruined fortifications round the Bellary villages will be noticed a roughly cylindrical or conical stone, something like a lingam. This is the Boddu-rāyi, literally the navel stone, and so the middle stone. Once a year, in May, just before the sowing season begins, a ceremony takes place in connection with it.” (See Bāriki.)

Bodo (big).—A sub-division of Bottada, Māli, Omanaito, Pentia, and other castes. Bodo Nāyak is a title among the Gadabas, and Bodo Odiya occurs as a sub-division of Sondi.

Bōgam.—See Dēva-dasi and Sāni.

Bōgāra.—Recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “Canarese brass and copper-smiths: a sub-division of Pānchāla.” From a note on the Jains of the Bellary district79 I gather that “there is a class of people called Bōgāras in the Harpanahalli tāluk, and in the town of Harpanahalli itself, side by side with the Jains. They are a thriving class, and trade in brass and copper wares. The Bōgāras practice the Jaina religion, have the same gōtras, freely worship in Jain temples, and are accepted into Jaina society. Evidently they are a sub-division of the Jains, though now excluded from inter-marriage.” It is said that “arrangements are now being made (through the Jaina Bhattachārya at Kolhapūr) to enable Bōgāras to intermarry with the Jains.” [255]

Bōgarlu.—Occurs as the name of a class of agricultural labourers in the Vizagapatam Agency, who are probably workers in metal who have taken to agriculture.

Boggula (charcoal).—An exogamous sept of Bōya and Dēvānga.

Bohora.—The Bohoras or Boras are “Musalman converts from the Bombay side. They are traders. In Madras they have their own high priest and their own mosque (in Georgetown). It is said that, when one of them dies, the high priest writes a note to the archangels Michael, Israel and Gabriel, asking them to take care of him in Paradise, and that the note is placed in the coffin.”80 They consider themselves as a superior class, and, if a member of another section enters their mosque, they clean the spot occupied by him during his prayers. They take part in certain Hindu festivals, e.g., Dīpāvali, or feast of lights, at which crackers are let off.

Boidyo.—Recorded under the name Boyidyo, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “literally a physician: a sub-caste of Pandito.” There is said to be no difference between Panditos and Boidyos. In Ganjam they are known by the former, elsewhere by the latter name.

Boipāri.—A synonym of Lambādi. (See Bēpāri.)

Boishnobo.—The Boishnobos have been defined as a class of Oriya religious mendicants and priests to Sūdras. The name means worshippers of Bishnu or Vishnu. Most of them are followers of Chaitanya, the great Bengāli reformer.

Boksha.—Boksha or Boksham (treasury) is the name of a sub-division of Gollas, indicating their [256]employment as treasury servants in guarding and carrying treasure. In some places, those who are employed in packing and lifting bags of money in district treasuries are still called Gollas, though they may belong to some other caste. In the Census Report, 1901, Bokkisha Vadugar (treasury northerner) was returned as a Tamil synonym for Golla.

Bolāsi.—The Bolāsis are a caste of Oriya cultivators, who are largely found in the Gumsūr tāluk of Ganjam. Many of them serve as paiks or peons. The original name of the caste is said to have been Thadia, which has been changed in favour of Bolāsi (Bayalisi, forty-two) in reference to the caste being one of the recognized forty-two Oriya Sūdra castes. It is also suggested that the name is derived from bola (anklets), as the women wear heavy brass anklets.

Their ceremonial rites connected with marriage, death, etc., are similar to those of the Doluvas, Gaudos, Badhōyis, and other castes. Marriage is infant, and, if a girl does not secure a husband before she reaches maturity, she goes through a form of marriage with an arrow or a grinding stone. The Bolāsis are Vaishnavites, and observe the Paramartho or Chaitanya form thereof. The caste titles are Podhāno, Nāyako, Daso, Mahanti, Pātro, Sāhu, Jenna, and Konhoro.

Gudiyas who are engaged in agriculture are sometimes known as Bolāsi Gudiyas.

Bolodia.—The name of a section of Tellis, who use pack-bullocks (bolodo, an ox) for carrying grain about the country. Some Gaudos, at times of census, have also returned Bolodia as their sub-division.

Bombadai (a fish).—A gōtra of Mēdara. The equivalent Bomidi occurs as an exogamous sept of Māla. Members of the Vamma gōtra of the Janappans abstain [257]from eating this fish, because, when some of their ancestors went to fetch water in a marriage pot, they found a number of this fish in the water collected in the pot.

Bomma (a doll).—An exogamous sept of Padma Sālē. The equivalent Bommala occurs as an exogamous sept of Māla. The Bommalātavāllu are said81 to exhibit shows in the Vizagapatam district.

Bommali.—A sub-division of the Koronos of Ganjam.

Bonda.—A sub-division of Poroja.

Bondia.—A small class, inhabiting Ganjam. The name is said to be derived from bondono, meaning praise, as the Bondias are those who praise and flatter Rājas.

Bondili.—In the Madras Census Report, 1891, the Bondilis are “said to derive their name from Bundelkund. They claim to be Rājputs, but appear to have degenerated. The Sivaites of this sect are said to bury their dead, while the Vishnavaites burn. In the Kadri tāluk of Cuddapah all are said to bury. The custom in this respect appears to differ in different localities. Besides Siva and Vishnu worship, three of the eight authorities who give particulars of this section agree that they worship village deities as well. All state that remarriage of widows is not permitted. They are generally cultivators, peons, or the body-guards of Zemindars.” The Bondilis of the North Arcot district are described by Mr. H. A. Stuart82 as being “foreigners from Bundelkund, from which fact their name originates, and of various Vaisya and Sūdra castes; the former having the termination Lāla to their names, and the latter that of Rām. Many of the Sūdra Bondilis, [258]however, improperly take the title Singh, and say they are Kshatriyas, that is, Rājputs. The Vaisya Bondilis are few in number, and only found in Vellore, Chittoor and Arni, where they are usually money-lenders. The Sūdras are mostly sepoys, constables, or revenue peons. Some say that they are not even Sūdras, but the descendants of Rājputs by women of the country, and probably many of them are such. All are very particular with respect to eating with an other professed Bondili, and refuse to do so unless they are quite certain that he is of their class. In their marriage customs they resemble the Rājputs.”

I am informed that one section of the Bondilis is named Tōli, in reference to their being workers in leather. There is, at Venkatagiri, a street called Tōli mitta, or Tōli quarters, and, in former days, the inhabitants thereof were not allowed to enter the temples.

In the Census Report, 1901, Guvālo, or traders from Sambalpūr, is returned as a sub-caste of Bondili.

Boniya.—The Oriya name for Baniya (trader). Boniya Korono appears83 as the name for traders and shopkeepers in Ganjam.

Bonka.—Recorded, in the Vizagapatam Manual, as cultivators in the Jeypore hills, and, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a small Oriya caste of hill cultivators, which has three sub-divisions, Bonka, Pata Bonka, and Goru Bonka.

Bonthuk.—The Bonthuks or Bonthuk Savaras are scattered about the Kistna and Guntūr districts, and lead a nomad life, carrying their small dwelling-huts with them as they shift from place to place. They are called Bonthuk Savaras to distinguish them from the Pothra [259](stone) Savaras, who dwell further north. By Telugu people they are called Chenchu or Bontha Chenchu, though they have no connection with the Chenchus who inhabit the hills in Kurnool, and other parts of the Telugu country. The Bonthuks, however, like the Chenchus, claim Ahobila Narasimha as their tribal deity. The Bonthuks speak the Oriya language, and they have a Mongoloid type of features, such as are possessed by the Savaras of Ganjam and Vizagapatam. Their house-names, or intipēralu, however are Telugu. These constitute exogamous septs, and seem to be as follows:—Pasupuretti, Simhādri (the god at Simhachalam near Vizagapatam), Konēti, Dāsapatri, Gēdala (buffaloes), Kudumala (cakes), Ākula (leaves), Sunkara, and Tōta (garden). At marriages, individuals of the Pasupuretti sept officiate as priests, and members of the Konēti sept as drummers and musicians. Men belonging to the Gēdalu sept are considered as equivalent to shepherds.

The Bonthuks have a very interesting way of naming their children. If a child is born when an official or person of some distinction happens to be near their encampment, it is named after him. Thus such names as Collector, Tahsildar, Kolnol (Colonel), Governor, Innes, Superintendent, and Acharlu (after one Sukracharlu) are met with. Sometimes children are named after a town or village, either because they were born there, or in the performance of a vow to some place of pilgrimage. In this way, such names as Hyderabad, Channapatam (Madras), Bandar (Masulipatam), Nellore, and Tirupati arise. A boy was named Tuyya (parrot), because a parrot was brought into the settlement at the time of his birth. Another child was called Beni because, at its birth, a bamboo flute (beni) was played. [260]

Every settlement is said to have a headman, called Bichādi, who, in consultation with several elders of the tribe, settles disputes and various affairs affecting the community. If an individual has been fined, and does not accept the punishment, he may appeal to another Bichādi, who may enhance the fine. Sometimes those who do not agree to abide by the decision of the Bichādi have to undergo a trial by ordeal, by taking out an areca nut from a pot of boiling cowdung water. The dimensions of the pot, in height and breadth, should not exceed the span of the hand, and the height of the cowdung water in the pot should be that of the middle finger from the base to the tip. If, in removing the nut from the pot, the hand is injured, the guilt of the individual is proved. Before the trial by ordeal, a sum of ten rupees is deposited by both complainant and accused with the Bichādi, and the person under trial may not live in his dwelling-hut. He lives in a grove or in the forest, watched by two members of the Pasupuretti sept.

The Bonthuks are engaged in collecting bamboos, and selling them after straightening them by heating them in the fire. Before the bamboos are placed in carts, for conveyance to the settlement, a goat and fowls are sacrificed to Satyamma, Dodlamma, Muthyalamma, and Pothurāju, who are represented by stones.

Girls are married before puberty, and, if a girl happens to be mated only after she has reached maturity, there is no marriage ceremonial. The marriage rites last over five days, on the first of which a brass vessel, with a thread tied round its neck, and containing turmeric water and the oyila tokka or tonko (bride’s money), is carried in procession to the bride’s hut on the head of a married girl belonging to a sept other than those of the [261]contracting couple. She has on her head a hood decorated with little bells, and the vessel is supported on a cloth pad. When the hut is reached, the bride’s money is handed over to the Bichādi, and the turmeric water is poured on the ground. The bride’s money is divided between her parents and maternal uncle, the Bichādi, and the caste men. A pig is purchased, and carried by two men on a pole to the scene of the marriage. The caste people, and the married girl carrying a brass vessel, go round the animal, to the accompaniment of music. The girl, as she goes round, pours water from the vessel on the ground. A thread is tied round the neck of the pig, which is taken to the bridegroom’s hut, and cut up into two portions, for the parties of the bridegroom and bride, of which the former is cooked and eaten on the same day. At the homes of the bride and bridegroom, a pandal (booth) and dais are erected. The materials for the former are brought by seven women, and for the latter by nine men. The pandal is usually decorated with mango and Eugenia Arnoltiana leaves. After supper, some relations of the contracting couple go to an open space, where the Bichādi, who has by him two pots and two bashingams (chaplets) of arka (Calotropis gigantea) flowers, is seated with a few men. The fathers of the bride and bridegroom ask the Bichādi to give them the bashingams, and this he does after receiving an assurance that the wedding will not be attended by quarrelling. The bride and bridegroom take their seats on the dais at the home of the latter, and the officiating priest ties the bashingams on their foreheads. Nine men and seven women stand near the dais, and a thread is passed round them seven times. This thread is cut up by the priest, and used for the kankanams (wrist threads) of the bride and bridegroom. These are [262]removed, at the close of the marriage festivities, on the fifth day.

When a girl attains maturity, she is under pollution for nine days, at the conclusion of which the Bichādi receives a small present of money from her parents. Her husband, and his agnates (people of his sept) also have to observe pollution, and, on the ninth day, the cooking pots which they have used are thrown away, and they proceed to the Bichādi, to whom they make a present of money, as they have probably broken the tribal rule that smoking is forbidden when under pollution. On the ninth day, the girl and her husband throw water over each other, and the marriage is consummated.

The dead are usually buried, lying on the left side. On the second day, food is offered to crows and Brāhmani kites. On the eleventh day, a mat is spread on the floor of the hut, and covered with a clean sheet, on which balls of food are placed. The dead person is invoked by name, as the various people deposit the food offering. The food is finally put into a winnowing basket, and taken to the bank of a tank (pond). A small hut is made there, and the food is placed therein on two leaves, one of which represents the Yama Dutas (servants of the god of death), the other the deceased.

Boori (cake).—An exogamous sept of Māla.

Bosantiya.—The Bosantiyas are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as “Oriya cultivators found in the northern tāluks of Ganjam. They are said by some to have been originally dyers.” I am informed that the caste name has reference to the fact that the occupation thereof was the collection of the fruits of Mallotus philippinensis, and trade in the dye (bosonto gundi) obtained therefrom. The dye, commonly known as kamēla, or kamala, is the powdery substance obtained [263]as a glandular pubescence from the exterior of the fruits. The following note on the dye was published in the Indian Forester, 1892. “Among the many rich natural products of Ganjam, probably the most esteemed in commerce is the red kamēla dye, the valuable product of the Mallotus philippinensis. This tree, with its lovely scarlet berries and vivid emerald green foliage, is a marked feature of forest scenery in Ganjam. The berries are coated with a beautiful red powder, which constitutes the dye. This powder is collected by being brushed off into baskets made for the purpose, but the method of collection is reckless and wasteful in the extreme, the trees being often felled in order to reach the berries more easily. The industry is a monopoly of the Hill Khonds, who, however, turn it to little advantage. They are ignorant of the great commercial value of the dye, and part with the powder to the low-country dealers settled among them for a few measures of rice or a yard or two of cloth. The industry is capable of great development, and a large fortune awaits the firm or individual with sufficient enterprise to enter into rivalry with the low-country native dealers settled among the Khonds, who at present enjoy a monopoly of the trade. It is notorious that these men are accumulating vast profits in respect of this dye. The tree is cultivated largely by the Khonds in their forest villages.”

The Bosantiyas seem to have no sub-divisions, but exogamous gōtras, e.g., nāgasira (cobra) and kochimo (tortoise) exist among them. Socially they are on a par with the Bhondāris, and above Pachchilia Gaudos and Sāmantiyas. They have a headman called Bissoyi, who is assisted by a Bhollobaya, and they have further a caste messenger called Jāti Naiko. The caste titles are Bissoyi and Nāhako. [264]

Most of the Bosantiyas are Saivites, but a few follow the Paramartho form of Vaishnavism. They also worship various Tākurānis (village deities), such as Kotāru and Chondi.

In the Vizagapatam Manual (1869), Bosuntea is described as a caste of Paiks or fighting men in the Vizagapatam district (Jeypore).

Bottada.—The Bottadas are, Mr. H. A. Stuart writes,84 “a Class of Uriya cultivators and labourers, speaking Muria or Lucia, otherwise known as Basturia, a dialect of Uriya. Mr. Taylor says the caste is the same as Muria, which is shown separately in the tables, and in Mr. H. G. Turner’s notes in the Census Report of 1871. But, whether identical or distinct, it seems clear that both are sub-divisions of the great Gond tribe.”

For the following note, I am indebted to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao. There is a current tradition that the caste originally dwelt at Barthagada, and emigrated to Vizagapatam long ago. It is vaguely mentioned that Barthagada was situated towards and beyond Bastar, near which place there are still to be found people of this caste, with whom those living in the Vizagapatam Agency intermarry. The caste is divided into three endogamous divisions, viz.:—

  • (1) Bodo, or genuine Bottadas;
  • (2) Madhya, descendants of Bottada men and non-Bottada women;
  • (3) Sanno, descendants of Madhya men and non-Madhya women. The Bodos will not interdine with the other two sections, but males of these will eat with Bodos.


The following notes refer to the Bodo section, in which various exogamous septs, or bamsa, exist, of which the following are examples:—

  • Kochchimo, tortoise.
  • Bhāg, tiger.
  • Gōyi, lizard (Varanus).
  • Nāg, cobra.
  • Kukkuro, dog.
  • Mākado, monkey.
  • Cheli, goat.

Girls are married either before or after puberty. A man can claim his paternal aunt’s daughter in marriage. When a marriage is under contemplation, the prospective bridegroom’s parents take maddho (liquor) and chada (beaten rice) to the girl’s house, where they are accepted or refused, according as her parents agree to, or disapprove of the match. After a stated period, further presents of liquor, rice, black gram, dhāl, salt, chillies, and jaggery (crude sugar) are brought, and betel leaves and areca nuts given in exchange. Two days later the girl’s parents pay a return visit to those of the young man. After another interval, the marriage takes place. Nine days before its celebration, paddy (unhusked rice) and Rs. 2 are taken to the bride’s house as jholla tonka, and a feast is held. At the bridegroom’s house, a pandal, made of nine sorghi or sāl (Shorca robusta) posts, is erected, with a pot of turmeric water tied to the central post. The bride is conducted thither. At the marriage rites the Dēsāri officiates. The ends of the cloths of the contracting couple are tied together, and their little fingers are linked together, while they go, with pieces of turmeric and rice in their hands, seven times round the pandal. The sacred fire, or hōmam, is raised, and into it seven or nine different kinds of wood, ghī (clarified butter), milk, rice and jaggery are thrown. Turmeric-rice dots are put on the foreheads of the bride and bridegroom by the Dēsāri, parents, and relations. They [266]are anointed with castor-oil, and bathed with the water contained in the pot tied to the post. New cloths are presented to them, and a caste feast is held.

Widow remarriage is permitted, and a younger brother often marries the widow of his elder brother. If, however, she marries any one else, her new husband has to pay rānd tonka, consisting of liquor, a sheep or goat, and rice, as a fine to the caste, or he may compound for payment of five rupees. Divorce is permitted, and, if a man divorces his wife, he usually gives her some paddy, a new cloth, and a rupee. If the woman divorces herself from her husband, and contracts an alliance with another man, the latter has to pay a fine of twenty rupees to the first husband, a portion of which is spent on a feast, at which the two husbands and the woman are present.

The dead are burned, and death pollution is observed for ten days, during which no agricultural work is done, and no food is cooked in the bamsa of the deceased, which is fed by some related bamsa. On the day following cremation, a new pot with water, and some sand are carried to the spot where the corpse was burnt. A bed of sand is made, in which a banyan (Ficus bengalensis) or pīpal (Ficus religiosa) is planted. A hole is made in the pot, and the plant watered. On the tenth day, on which a bath is taken, some fried rice and a new pot are carried to the burning-ground, and left there.

The Bottadas have the reputation of being the best cultivators in the Jeypore Agency, and they take a high position in social rank. Many of them wear the sacred thread, at the time of marriage and subsequently, and it is said that the right to wear it was acquired by purchase from former Rājas of Jeypore.

Bottu Kattōru (those who tie the bottu).—A sub-division of Kāppiliyans, who are Canarese cultivators [267]settled in the Tamil district of Madura. The bottu (marriage badge) is the equivalent of the Tamil tāli.

Bōvi.—The name of the palanquin-bearing section of the Mogērs of South Canara. Some Besthas from Mysore, who have settled in this district, are also called Bōvi, which is a form of Bōyi (bearer).

Bōya (see Bēdar).—Bōya has also been recorded85 as a sub-division of Māla, a name for Ēkari.

Bōyan.—A title of Oddē.

Bōyi (see Bestha).—It is also the title of one of the chief men among the Savaras.

Brāhman.—The Brāhmans of Southern India are divided into a number of sections, differing in language, manners and customs. As regards their origin, the current belief is that they sprang from the mouth of Brahma. In support thereof, the following verse from the Purusha Sūktha (hymn of the primæval male) of the Rig Vēda is quoted:—From the face of Prajāpathi (Viratpurusha) came the Brāhmans; from the arms arose the Kshatriyas; from the thighs sprang the Vaisyas; and from the feet the Sūdras. Mention of the fourfold division of the Hindu castes is also made in other Vēdas, and in Ithihāsas and Purānas.

The Brāhmans fall into three groups, following the three Vēdas or Sākas, Rig, Yajus, and Samam. This threefold division is, however, recognised only for ceremonial purposes. For marriage and social purposes, the divisions based on language and locality are practically more operative. In the matter of the more important religious rites, the Brāhmans of Southern India, as elsewhere, closely follow their own Vēdas. Every Brāhman belongs to one or other of the numerous gōtras [268]mentioned in Pravara and Gōtra Kandams. All the religious rites are performed according to the Grihya Sūtras (ritual books) pertaining to their Sāka or Vēda. Of these, there are eight kinds now in vogue, viz.:—

1. Asvalayana Sūtra of the Rig Vēda.
2. Āpasthamba Sūtras of the black Yajus.
3. Bhāradwaja
4. Bhodayana
5. Sathyāshāda
6. Vaikkānasa
7. Kāthyayana Sūtra of the white Yajus.
8. Drahyayana Sūtra of Sāma Vēda.

All Brāhmans claim descent from one or more of the following seven Rishis:—Atri, Bhrigu, Kutsa, Vashista, Gautama, Kasyapa, Angiras. According to some, the Rishis are Agasthya, Angiras, Atri, Bhrigu, Kasyapa, Vashista, and Gautama. Under these Rishis are included eighteen ganams, and under each ganam there are a number of gōtras, amounting in all to about 230. Every Brāhman is expected to salute his superiors by repeating the Abhivādhanam (salutation) which contains his lineage. As an example, the following may be given:—“I, Krishna by name, of Srivathsa gōtra, with the pravara (lineage) of the five Rishis, Bhargava, Chyāvana, Āpnuvana, Aruva, and Jamadagni, following the Āpasthamba sūtra of the Yajus Sāka, am now saluting you.” Daily, at the close of the Sandhya prayers, this Abhivādhanam formula should be repeated by every Brāhman.

Taking the Brāhmans as a whole, it is customary to group them in two main divisions, the Pancha Drāvidas and Pancha Gaudas. The Pancha Drāvidas are pure vegetarians, whereas the Pancha Gaudas need not abstain from meat and fish, though some, who live amidst the Pancha Drāvidas, do so. Other differences will be noted in connection with Oriya Brāhmans, who belong to the [269]Pancha Gauda section. In South India, all Brāhmans, except those who speak the Oriya and Konkani languages, are Pancha Drāvidas, who are divided into five sections, viz.:—

  • 1. Tamil, or Drāvida proper.
  • 2. Telugu or Āndhra.
  • 3. Canarese, or Carnātaka.
  • 4. Marathi or Dēsastha.
  • 5. Guzarāti.

The Tulu-speaking Shivalli Brāhmans are included among the Carnātakas; the Pattar and Nambūtiri Brāhmans (see Nambūtiri) among the Drāvidas proper.

From a religious point of view, the Brāhmans are either Saivites or Vaishnavites. The Saivites are either Saivites proper, or Smarthas. The Smarthas believe that the soul of man is only a portion of the infinite spirit (ātman), and that it is capable of becoming absorbed into the ātman. They recognise the Trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as separate gods, but only as equal manifestations of the supreme spirit, and that, in the end, these are to be absorbed into the infinite spirit, and so disappear. Saivas, on the other hand, do not recognise the Trimurtis, and believe only in one god, Siva, who is self-existent, and not liable to lose his personality. Of Vaishnavites there are three kinds, viz., those who are the followers of Chaitanya, Rāmānuja, and Mādhvāchārya. Like the Smarthas, the Vaishnavites recognise Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, but Vishnu is supposed to be the chief god, to whom the others are subordinate.

“Vaishnavas,” Monier Williams writes,86 “are believers in the one personal god Vishnu, not only as the preserver, but as above every other god, including Siva. [270]It should be noted, too, that both Saivites and Vaishnavas agree in attributing an essential form of qualities to the Supreme Being. Their one god, in fact, exists in an eternal body, which is antecedent to his earthly incarnations, and survives all such incarnations.” He adds that “it cannot be doubted that one great conservative element of Hinduism is the many sidedness of Vaishnavism. For Vaishnavism is, like Buddhism, the most tolerant of systems. It is always ready to accommodate itself to other creeds, and delights in appropriating to itself the religious idea of all the nations of the world. It admits of every form of internal development. It has no organised hierarchy under one supreme head, but it may have any number of separate associations under separate leaders, who are ever banding themselves together for the extension of spiritual supremacy over ever increasing masses of population.”

The Oriya Brāhmans, who follow the creed of Chaitanya, are called Paramarthos, and are confined to the Ganjam district. There is no objection to intermarriage between Smartha and Paramartho Oriya Brāhmans.

Sri Vaishnavas (who put on the nāmam as a sectarian mark) and Mādhvas are exclusive as regards intermarriage, but the Mādhvas have no objection to taking meals with, and at the houses of Smarthas, whereas Sri Vaishnavas object to doing so.

According to the Sūtras, a Brāhman has to go through the following samskāras (rites):—

  • 1. Garbhādāna.
  • 2. Pumsavanam.
  • 3. Sīmantam.
  • 4. Jātakarmam.
  • 5. Nāmakaranam.
  • 6. Annaprāsanam
  • 7. Chaulam.
  • 8. Upanayanam
  • 9. Vivāham.


These rites are supposed to purify the body and spirit from the taint transmitted through the womb of the mother, but all of them are not at the present day performed at the proper time, and in regular order.

The Garbhādhāna, or impregnation ceremony, should, according to the Grihya Sūtras, be performed on the fourth day of the marriage ceremonies. But, as the bride is a young girl, it is omitted, or Vēdic texts are repeated. The Garbhādhāna ceremony is performed, after the girl has attained puberty. At the time of consummation or Ritu Sānthi, the following verse is repeated:—“Let all pervading Vishnu prepare her womb; let the Creator shape its forms; let Prajāpathi be the impregnator; let the Creator give the embryo.”

Pumsavanam and Sīmantam are two ceremonies, which are performed together during the seventh or ninth month of the first pregnancy, though, according to the Grihya Sūtras, the former should be performed in the third month. At the Pumsavanam, or male producing ceremony, the pregnant woman fasts, and her husband squeezes into her right nostril a little juice from the fruit and twig of the ālam tree (Ficus bengalensis), saying “Thou art a male child.” The twig selected should be one pointing, east or north; with two fruits looking like testicles. The twig is placed on a grinding-stone, and a girl, who has not attained puberty, is asked to pound it. The pulp is wrapped in a new silk cloth, and squeezed to express the juice. On the conclusion of the Pumsavanam, the Sīmantam, or parting the pregnant woman’s hair, is gone through. After oblations in the sacred fire (hōmam), the woman’s husband takes a porcupine quill, to which three blades of dharbha grass, and a twig with fruits of the aththi tree (Ficus glomerata) are attached, [272]and passes it over the woman’s head from before backwards, parting the hair.

The Jātakarmam, Nāmakaranam, Annaprāsanam, and Chaulam rites are ordinarily celebrated, one after the other, on the Upanayanam day. Jātakarmam consists in smearing some ghī (clarified butter) and honey on the tongue of the baby, and repeating the following verses from the Rig Vēda:—“Oh! long lived one, mayst thou live a hundred years in this world, protected by the gods. Become firm as a rock, firm as an axe, pure as gold. Thou art the Vēda called a son; live thou a hundred years. May Indra bestow on thee his best treasures. May Sāvitri, may Sarasvati, may the Asvins grant thee wisdom.”

At the Nāmakaranam, or naming ceremony, the parents of the child pronounce its name close to its ear, and repeat the Vēdic prayer to Indra and Agni “May Indra give you lustre, and Indra semen, wisdom, and children.”

The Annaprāsanam, or food-giving ceremony, should be performed during the sixth month after birth. A little solid food is put into the child’s mouth, and the following Vēdic verses are repeated:—“Agni who lives on plants, Sōma who lives on sōma juice, Brāhmans who live on the Vēdas, and Dēvatas who live on amartam (ambrosia), may they bless you. As the earth gives food to plants and water, so I give you this food. May these waters and plants give you prosperity and health.”

At the Chaulam, or tonsure ceremony, the child is seated in his mother’s lap. The father, taking a few blades of dharbha grass in his hand, sprinkles water over the child’s head. Seven times he inserts blades of dharbha in the hair of the head (three blades each time), saying “Oh! divine grass, protect him.” He [273]then cuts off the tips of the blades, and throws them away. The father is expected, according to the Grihya Sūtras, to shave or cut the child’s hair. At the present day, however, the barber is called in, and shaves the head, leaving one lock or more according to local custom.

The Upanayana, or leading a boy to his guru or spiritual teacher, is essentially a ceremony of initiation. From an orthodox point of view, this ceremony should be performed before the age of eight years, but in practice it is deferred even up to the age of seventeen. It usually commences with the arrangement of seed-pans containing nine kinds of grain, and tying a thread or pratisaram on the boy’s wrist. After this, the Abyudayam, or invocation of ancestors, is gone through. The boy sits in front of the sacred fire, and his father, or some other person, sits by his side, to help him in the ceremonial and act the part of guru. He places over the boy’s head blades of dharbha grass so that the tips are towards the east, south, west, and north. The tips are cut off, and the following Vēdic verses are repeated:—“Please permit me to shave the head of this boy with the knife used by the sun for shaving Sōma. He is to be shaved, because it will bring him long life and old age. May the boy become great, and not die a premature death. May he outshine all in glory.” The boy is then shaved by a barber, and more Vēdic verses are repeated, which run as follows:—“You are shaving with a sharp razor, so that this shaving may enable him to live long. Brihaspathi, Sūrya, and Agni shaved the hair of the head of Varuna, and placed the hairs in the middle regions of the sky, earth, and in swarga. I shall place the hairs removed by me at the foot of the audambara tree (Ficus glomerata), or in the clumps of dharbha grass.” The boy then [274]bathes, and comes near the sacred fire. After ghī has been poured thereon, a bundle of palāsa (Butea frondosa) sticks is given to him, and he puts it on the fire after repeating certain Vēdic riks. A grinding-stone is placed on one side of the fire, and the boy treads on it, while the following verse is repeated:—“Tread on this stone, and may you be as firm as it is. May you subdue thy enemies.” A new cloth is given to him, which he puts on. The following verses are then repeated:—“Oh! cloth, Revathi and others have spun, woven, spread out, and put skirts on both sides of you. May these goddesses clothe the boy with long life. Blessed with life, put on this cloth. Dress the boy with this cloth. By wearing it, let him attain a hundred years of age. May his life be extended. Such a garment as this was given to Sōma by Brihaspathi to wear. Mayst thou reach old age. Put on this cloth. Be a protector to all people. May you live a hundred years with full vigour. May you have plenty of wealth.” After the boy has put on the cloth, the following is repeated:—“You have put on this cloth for the sake of blessing. You have become the protector of your friends. Live a hundred years. A noble man, blessed with life, mayst thou obtain wealth.” A girdle (minji) spun from grass is wound thrice round the boy’s body, and tied with a knot opposite the navel, or to the left of it. The following verses are repeated:—“This blessed girdle, the friend of the gods, has come to us to remove our sins, to purify and protect us, bring strength to us by the power of exhalation and inhalation. Protect, Oh! girdle, our wealth and meditation. Destroy our enemies, and guard us on all the four sides.” A small piece of deer-skin is next tied on to the sacred thread, which has been put on the boy soon after the shaving rite. The following verses [275]are repeated:—“Oh! skin which is full of lustre because Mitra sees you, full of glory and one that is not fit for wicked people, I am now putting you on. May Aditi tuck up thy garment. Thou mayst read Vēdas, and grow wise. Thou mayst not forget what you have read. Mayst thou become holy and glorious.” The boy seats himself next to the guru, and close to the sacred fire, and repeats the following:—“I have come near the spiritual teacher, my Āchārya. May the teacher and myself become prosperous. May I also complete my Vēdic studies properly, and let me be blessed with a married life after the study.” The guru sprinkles water over the boy three times, and, taking hold of his hand, says:—“Agni, Sōman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Pūsha, Aryaman, Amsuhu, Bagadēvata, and Mitra have seized thy hand. They have taken you over to them, and you have become friends.” Then he hands over the boy to the gods by repeating:—“We give you to Agni, Sōman, Savitha, Sarasvati, Mrityu, Yaman, Gadhan, Andhakan, Abhaya, Ōshadhi, Prithvi, and Vaisvānara. With the permission of Sūrya, I am allowing you to approach me. Oh! boy, may you have children full of lustre, and capable of becoming heroes.” The boy then repeats the following:—“I am come to be a student. You that have obtained permission from the Sūrya, please take me.” The teacher asks, “Who are you? What is your name?” The boy gives out his name, and the teacher enquires of him what kind of Brahmachari he is. The boy replies that he is a Brahmachari for Ātman, and repeats the following:—“Oh! sun, the lord of all ways, through your grace I am about to begin my studies, which will do good to me.” The teacher and the boy take their seats on dharbha grass, and say:—“Oh! dharbha, a giver of royal power, a teacher’s seat, may I not withdraw [276]from thee.” The boy then pours some ghī on to the sacred fire. A cloth is thrown over both the teacher and the boy, and the latter asks the former to recite the Sāvitri. The following Gāyatri is repeated into his ear:—“Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifier. May he illumine our understandings.” The boy touches his own upper lip with his right hand, and says:—“Oh! Prāna, I have become illumined, having heard the Sāvitri. Protect and guard this wealth that has entered me, the Gāyatri or Sāvitri.” He then takes the palāsa staff, and the teacher says:—“Up with life. Oh! sun, this is thy son. I give him in charge to thee.” The boy then worships the sun thus:—“That bright eye created by the gods, which rises in the east, may we see it a hundred autumns; may we live a hundred autumns; may we rejoice a hundred autumns; may we live a hundred autumns; may we rejoice a hundred autumns; may we be glad a hundred autumns; may we prosper a hundred autumns; may we speak a hundred autumns; may we live undecaying a hundred autumns; and may we long see the sun.” The ceremonial is brought to a close on the first day by the boy begging rice from his mother and other female relations. A basket, filled with rice, is placed in a pandal (booth), and the boy stands near it, repeating “Please give me alms.” Each woman pours some rice into a tray which he carries, and presents him with some money and betel leaves. The rice is placed in the basket. On the second and third days, the boy puts palāsa sticks into the sacred fire, and pours ghī thereon. On the fourth day, the new cloth is given to the teacher.

The wearing of the sacred thread is a sign that the boy has gone through the upanayanam ceremony. It is [277]noted87 by the Rev. A. Margöschis that “the son of Brāhman parents is not reckoned to be a Brāhman (i.e., he may not take part in religious ceremonies) until he has gone through the ceremony of assuming the sacred thread; and I have heard Brāhman boys wearing the thread taunting a boy of Brāhman birth, and calling him a Sūdra, because he had not yet assumed the holy thread.” The thread is composed of three threads of cotton secured together in one spot by a sacred knot of peculiar construction, called Brahma Grandhi. The knot in the sacred thread worn by Vaishnava Brāhmans is called Vishnu Grandhi, and that in the thread of Smarthas Rūdra Grandhi. In the preparation of the thread, cotton sold in the bazaar may not be used; the bolls ought to be secured direct from the plant. Here and there Brāhmans may be seen in villages, removing the cotton from the bolls, and preparing it into pads for spinning into thread. Those who teach students the Vēdas may be seen spinning the thread from these pads. The spinning rod is a thin piece of bamboo stick weighted with a lead or soapstone disc about half an inch in diameter. The thin thread is kept in stock, and twisted into the sacred thread whenever it is required. Three or more people usually take part in the twisting process, during which they chant Vēdic verses. In the Srutis and Sūtras, it is enjoined that the Yagnopavita (sacred thread) is to be put on only on occasions of sacrifice. It ought really to be a vestment, and is a symbolical representation thereof. Ordinarily the thread is worn over the left shoulder in the position called Upavītham. In ceremonies connected with the dead, however, it is worn over the right shoulder in the [278]position called prāchinavīthi. At the time of worshipping Rishis and Ganas, the thread should be over both shoulders and round the neck in the position called nivīthi.

The grass girdle and deer-skin worn by a youth at the Upanayanam ceremony are removed on the fifth day, or, among the orthodox, kept on until the first Upākarmam day. They, and the palāsa stick, should be retained by the Brahmachāri till the close of his studentship. Nambūtiri Brāhman lads of eight or nine years old, who have gone through the Upanayanam ceremony, always carry with them the palāsa stick, and wear the grass girdle, and, in addition to the sacred thread, a thin strip of deer-skin in length equal to the thread. Round the waist he wears a narrow strip of cloth (kaupīnam) passed between the legs. He may cover his breast and abdomen with a cloth thrown over his body. He is thus clad until his marriage, or at least until he has concluded the study of the Vēdas.

The marriage rites in vogue at the present day resemble those of Vēdic times in all essential particulars. All sections of Brāhmans closely follow the Grihya Sūtras relating to their sākha. The marriage ceremonies commence with the Nischyathartham or betrothal ceremony. The bridegroom being seated on a plank amidst a number of Brāhmans, Vēdic verses are repeated, and, after the bestowal of blessings, the bride’s father proclaims that he intends giving his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, and that he may come for the purpose after the completion of the Vratam ceremony. For this ceremony, the bridegroom, after being shaved, dresses up. Meanwhile, the Brāhmans who have been invited assemble. The bridegroom sits on the marriage dais, and, after repeating certain Vēdic verses, says:—“With [279]the permission of all assembled, let me begin the Vratams Prājāpathyam, Soumyam, Āgnēyam, and Vaiswadēvam, and let me also close them.” All the Vratams should be performed long before the marriage. In practice, however, this is not done, so the bridegroom performs an expiatory ceremony, to make up for the omission. This consists in offering oblations of ghī, and giving presents of money to a few Brāhmans. The bridegroom is helped throughout the Vratam ceremonies by a spiritual teacher or guru, who is usually his father or a near relation. The guru sprinkles water over the bridegroom’s body, and tells him to go on with kāndarishi tharpanam (offerings of water, gingelly, and rice, as an oblation to Rishis). A small copper or silver vessel is placed on a leaf to the north-east of the sacred fire, and is made to represent Varuna. A new cloth is placed round the vessel. The various Vratams mentioned are gone through rapidly, and consist of offerings of ghī through fire to the various Dēvatas and Pitris. The Nāndhi Srādh, or memorial service to ancestors, is then performed. The bridegroom next dresses up as a married man, and proceeds on a mock pilgrimage to a distant place. This is called Paradēsa Pravesam (going to a foreign place), or Kāsiyatra (pilgrimage to Benares). It is a remnant of the Snāthakarma rite, whereat a Brahmachāri, or student, leaves his spiritual teacher’s house at the close of his studies, performs a ceremony of ablution, and becomes an initiated householder or Snāthaka. The bridegroom carries with him an umbrella, a fan, and a bundle containing some rice, cocoanut, and areca-nut. He usually goes eastward. His future father-in-law meets him, and brings him to the house at which the marriage is to be celebrated. As soon as he has arrived there, the bride is brought, dressed up and [280]decorated in finery. The bridal pair are taken up on the shoulders of their maternal uncles, who dance about for a short time. Whenever they meet, the bride and bridegroom exchange garlands (mālaimāththal). The couple then sit on a swing within the pandal (booth), and songs are sung. A few married women go round them three times, carrying water, a light, fruits, and betel, in a tray. The pair are conducted into the house, and are seated on the marriage dais. The marriage, or Vivāham, is then commenced. A purōhit (priest) repeats certain Vēdic texts as a blessing, and says:—“Bless this couple of ... gōtras, the son and daughter of ..., grandchildren of ..., now about to be married.” At this stage, the gōtras of the contracting couple must be pronounced distinctly, so as to ensure that they are not among the prohibited degrees. The bridal couple must belong to different gōtras. The bridegroom next says that he is about to commence the worship of Visvaksēna if he is a Vaishnavite, or Ganapathi if he is a Saivite, for the successful termination of the marriage ceremonies. The Ankurarpana (seed-pan) ceremony is then proceeded with. Five earthenware pans are procured, and, after being purified by the sprinkling of punyāham water over them, are arranged in the form of a square. Four of the pans are placed at the four cardinal points, east, west, north, and south, and the remaining pot is set down in the centre of the square. The pan to the east represents Indra, the one to the west Varuna, the one to the south Yama, and the one to the north Sōman. While water is being sprinkled over the pans, the following synonyms for each of these gods are repeated:—

Indra—Sathakruthu, Vajranam, Sachipathi.

Yama—Vaivaswata, Pithrupathi, Dharmarāja. [281]

Varuna—Prachethas, Apāmpathi, Swarūpinam.

Sōman—Indum, Nisākaram, Ōshadīsam.

Nine kinds of grains soaked in water are placed in the seed-pans. These grains are Dolichos Lablab (two varieties), Phaseolus Mungo (two varieties), Oryza sativa, Cicer Arietinum, Cajanus indicus, Eleusine Coracana, and Vigna Catiang. The tying of the wrist-thread (pratisaram) is next proceeded with. Two cotton threads are laid on a vessel representing Varuna. After the recitation of Vēdic verses, the bridegroom takes one of the threads, and, dipping it in turmeric paste, holds it with his left thumb, smears some of the paste on it with his right thumb and forefinger, and ties it on the left wrist of the bride. The purōhit ties the other thread on the right wrist of the bridegroom, who, facing the assembly, says “I am going to take the bride.” He then recites the following Vēdic verse:—“Go to my future father-in-law with due precautions, and mingle with the members of his family. This marriage is sure to be pleasing to Indra, because he gets oblations of food, etc., after the marriage. May your path be smooth and free from thorns. May Sūrya and Bhaga promote our dhāmpathyam (companionship).”

The purōhit again proclaims the marriage, and the gōtras and names of three generations are repeated. Those assembled then bless the couple. The bride’s father says that he is prepared to give his daughter in marriage to the bridegroom, who states that he accepts her. The father of the bride washes the feet of the bridegroom placed on a tray with milk and water. The bridegroom then washes the feet of the bride’s father. The bride sits in her father’s lap, and her mother stands at her side. The father, repeating the names of the bridegroom’s ancestors for three generations, says [282]that he is giving his daughter to him. He places the hand of the bride on that of the bridegroom, and both he and the bride’s mother pour water over the united hands of the contracting couple. The following slōka is repeated:—“I am giving you a virgin decorated with jewels, to enable me to obtain religious merit.” The bridegroom takes the bride by the hand, and both take their seats in front of the sacred fire. This part of the ceremonial is called dhāre (pouring of water). Much importance is attached to it by Tulu Brāhmans. Among Non-Brāhman castes in South Canara, it forms the binding portion of the marriage ceremony. After the pouring of ghī as an oblation, the bridegroom throws down a few twigs of dharbha grass, and repeats the formula:—“Oh! dharbha, thou art capable of giving royal powers, and the teacher’s seat. May I not be separated from thee.” Then the bride’s father, giving a vessel of water, says “Here is Arghya water.” The bridegroom receives it with the formula:—“May this water destroy my enemies. May brilliancy, energy, strength, life, renown, glory, splendour, and power dwell in me.” Once again the bride’s father washes the feet of the bridegroom, who salutes his father-in-law, saying “Oh! water, unite me with fame, splendour, and milk. Make me beloved by all creatures, the lord of cattle. May fame, heroism, and energy dwell in me.” The bride’s father pours some water from a vessel over the hand of the bridegroom, who says “To the ocean I send you, the imperishable waters; go back to your source. May I not suffer loss in my offspring. May my sap not be shed.” A mixture of honey, plantain fruit, and ghī, is given to the bridegroom by the bride’s father with the words “Ayam Madhuparko” (honey mixture). Receiving it, the bridegroom mutters the [283]following:—“What is the honeyed, highest form of honey which consists in the enjoyment of food; by that honeyed highest form of honey, may I become highest, honeyed, an enjoyer of food.” He partakes three times of the mixture, and says:—“I eat thee for the sake of brilliancy, luck, glory, power, and the enjoyment of food.” Then the bride’s father gives a cocoanut to the bridegroom, saying “Gauhu” (cow). The bridegroom receives it with the words “Oh! cow, destroy my sin, and that of my father-in-law.” According to the Grihya Sūtras, a cow should be presented to the bridegroom, to be cooked or preserved. Next a plantain fruit is given to the bridegroom, who, after eating a small portion of it, hands it to the bride. The bride sits on a heap or bundle of paddy (unhusked rice), and the bridegroom says “Oh! Varuna, bless her with wealth. May there be no ill-feeling between herself, her brothers and sisters. Oh! Brihaspathi, bless her that she may not lose her husband. Oh! Indra, bless her to be fertile. Oh! Savitha, bless her that she may be happy in all respects. Oh! girl, be gentle-eyed and friendly to me. Let your look be of such a nature as not to kill your husband. Be kind to me, and to my brothers.88 May you shine with lustre, and be of good repute. Live long, and bear living children.” The pair are then seated, and the bridegroom, taking a blade of dharbha grass, passes it between the eyebrows of the bride, and throws it behind her, saying “With this dharbha grass I remove the evil influence of any bad mark thou mayst possess, which is likely to cause widowhood.” [Certain marks or curls (suli) forebode prosperity, and others misery to a family into which a girl enters [284]by marriage. And, when a wealthy Hindu meditates purchasing a horse, he looks to the presence or absence of certain marks on particular parts of the body, and thereby forms a judgment of the temper and qualities of the animal.] The bridegroom then repeats the following:—“Now they ought to rejoice, and not cry. They have arranged our union to bring happiness to both of us. In view of the happiness we are to enjoy hereafter, they should be glad. This is a fitting occasion for rejoicing.” Four Brāhmans next bring water, and the bridegroom receives it, saying:—“May the evil qualities of this water disappear; may it increase. Let the Brāhmans bring water for the bath, and may it bring long life and children to her.” A bundle of paddy, or a basket filled therewith, is brought to the pandal. The bride sits on the paddy, and a ring of dharbha grass is placed on her head. The bridegroom repeats the formula “Blessed by the Sūrya, sit round the sacred fire, and look at the dharbha ring, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law.” A yoke is then brought, one end of which is placed on the head of the bride above the ring, and the following formula is repeated:—“Oh! Indra, cleanse and purify this girl, just as you did in the case of Abhala, by pouring water through three holes before marrying her.” Abhala was an ugly woman, who wished to marry Indra. To attain this end, she did penance for a long time, and, meeting Indra, requested him to fulfil her desire. Indra made her his wife, after transforming her into a beautiful woman by sprinkling water over her through the holes in the wheels of the car which was his vehicle. Into the hole of the yoke a gold coin, or the tāli (marriage badge), is dropped, with the words “May this gold prove a blessing to you. May the yoke, the hole of the yoke, bring happiness [285]to you. May we be blessed to unite your body with mine.” Then the bridegroom, sprinkling water over the yoke and coin, says:—“May you become purified by the sun through this purificatory water. May this water, which is the cause of thunder and lightning, bring happiness to you. Oh! girl, may this water give you health and long life. A new and costly silk cloth (kūrai), purchased by the bridegroom, is given to the bride, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! Indra, listen to my prayers; accept them, and fulfil my desires.” The bride puts on the cloth, with the assistance of the bridegroom’s sister, and sits on her father’s lap. The bridegroom, taking up the tāli, ties it by the string on the bride’s neck, saying:—“Oh! girl, I am tying the tāli to secure religious merit.” This is not a Vēdic verse, and this part of the ceremony is not included in the Grihya Sūtras. All the Brāhmans assembled bless the couple by throwing rice over their heads. A dharbha waist-cord is passed round the waist of the bride, and the following is repeated:—“This girl is gazing at Agni, wishing for health, wealth, strength and children. I am binding her for her good.” The bridegroom then holds the hand of the bride, and both go to the sacred fire, where the former says:—“Let Sūrya lead to Agni, and may you obtain permission from the Aswins to do so. Go with me to my house. Be my wife, and the mistress of my house. Instruct and help me in the performance of sacrifices.” After offerings of ghī in the sacred fire, the bridegroom says:—“Sōma was your husband; Gandharva knew thee next; Agni was your third husband. I, son of man, am your fourth husband. Sōma gave you to Gandharva, and Gandharva gave you to Agni, who gave to me with progeny and wealth.” The bridegroom takes hold of the bride’s [286]right wrist, and, pressing on the fingers, passes his hand over the united fingers three times. This is called Pānigrahanam. To the Nambūtiri Brāhman this is a very important item, being the binding part of the marriage ceremonial. Some years ago, at a village near Chalakkudi in the Cochin State, a Nambūtiri refused to accept a girl as his bride, because the purōhit inadvertently grasped her fingers, to show how it ought to be done at the time of the marriage ceremony. The purōhit had to marry the girl himself. The next item in the ceremonial is Sapthapathi, or the taking of the seven steps. This is considered as the most binding portion thereof. The bridegroom lifts the left foot of the bride seven times, repeating the following:—“One step for sap, may Vishnu go after thee. Two steps for juice, may Vishnu go after thee. Three steps for vows, may Vishnu go after thee. Four steps for comfort, may Vishnu go after thee. Five steps for cattle, may Vishnu go after thee. Six steps for the prospering of wealth, may Vishnu go after thee. Seven steps for the seven-fold hōtriship,89 may Vishnu go after thee. With seven steps we have become companions. May I attain to friendship with thee. May I not be separated from thy friendship. Mayst thou not be separated from my friendship. Let us be united; let us always take counsel together with good hearts and mutual love. May we grow in strength and prosperity together. Now we are one in minds, deeds, and desires. Thou art Rik, I am Sāmam; I am the sky, thou art the earth; I am the semen, thou art the bearer; I am the mind, thou art the tongue. Follow me faithfully, that we may have wealth and children together. Come thou of sweet [287]speech.” The bridegroom then does hōmam, repeating the following:—“We are offering oblations to Sōma, Gandharva, and Agni. This girl has just passed her virginity. Make her leave her father’s house. Bless her to remain fixed in her husband’s house. May she have a good son by your blessing. Cause her to beget ten children, and I shall be the eleventh child. Oh! Agni, bless her with children, and make them long-lived. Oh! Varuna, I pray to you for the same thing. May this woman be freed from the sorrow arising out of sterility, and be blessed by Garhapathyāgni. May she have a number of children in her, and become the mother of many living children. Oh! girl, may your house never know lamentations during nights caused by deaths. May you live long and happy with your husband and children. May the sky protect thy back; may Vāyu strengthen your thighs; and the Aswins your breast. May Savitri look after thy suckling sons. Until the garment is put on, may Brihaspathi guard them, and the Viswedēvas afterwards. Oh! Varuna, make me strong and healthy. Do not steal away years from our ages. All those who offer oblations pray for the same. Oh! you all-pervading Agni, pacify Varuna; you who blaze forth into flames to receive oblations, be friendly towards us. Be near us, and protect us. Receive, and be satisfied with our oblations. Make us prosperous. We are always thinking of you. Take our oblations to the several dēvatas, and give us medicine.” The bride next treads on a stone, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! girl, tread on this stone. Be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies.” Some fried paddy is put in the sacred fire, and the bridegroom repeats the following:—“Oh! Agni, I am offering the fried grains, so that this girl may be [288]blessed with long life. Oh! Agni, give me my wife with children, just as in olden days you were given Sūryayi with wealth. Oh! Agni, bless my wife with lustre and longevity. Also bless her husband with long life, that she may live happily. Oh! Agni, help us to overcome our enemies.” Again the bride treads on the stone, and the bridegroom says:—“Oh! girl, tread on this stone, and be firm like it. Destroy those who seek to do thee harm. Overcome thy enemies.” This is followed by the offering of fried grain with the following formula:—“The virgins prayed to Sūrya and Agni to secure husbands, and they were at once granted their boons. Such an Agni is now being propitiated by offerings of fried paddy. Let him make the bride leave her father’s house.” For the third time, the bride treads on the stone, and fried paddy is offered with the formula:—“Oh! Agni, thou art the giver of life, and receiver of oblations. Oblations of ghī are now offered to you. Bless the pair to be of one mind.” The dharbha girdle is removed from the bride’s waist, with the verse: “I am loosening you from the bondage of Varuna. I am now removing the thread with which Sūrya bound you.” Those assembled then disperse. Towards evening, Brāhmans again assemble, and the bride and bridegroom sit before the sacred fire, while the former repeat several Vēdic riks. They are supposed to start for their home, driving in a carriage, and the verses repeated have reference to the chariot, horses, boats, etc. After ghī has been poured into the fire, a child, who should be a male who has not lost brothers or sisters, is seated in the lap of the bride, and the bridegroom says:—“May cows, horses, men, and wealth, increase in this house. Let this child occupy your lap, just as the Sōma creeper which gives strength [289]to the Dēvatas occupies the regions of the stars.” Giving some plantain fruit to the child, the bridegroom says:—“Oh! fruits, ye bear seeds. May my wife bear seeds likewise by your blessing.” Then the pair are shown Druva and Arundathi (the pole star and Ursa major), which are worshipped with the words:—“The seven Rishis who have led to firmness, she, Arundathi, who stands first among the six Krithikas (Pleiads), may she the eighth one, who leads the conjunction of the (moon with the) six Krithikas, the first (among conjunctions) shine upon us. Firm dwelling, firm origin; the firm one art thou, standing on the side of firmness. Thou art the pillar of the stars. Thus protect me against my adversaries.” They then proceed to perform the Sthālipāka ceremony, in which the bride should cook some rice, which the bridegroom offers as an oblation in the sacred fire. In practice, however, a little food is brought, and placed in the fire without being cooked. The purōhit decorates a Ficus stick with dharbha grass, and gives it to the bridegroom. It is placed in the roof, or somewhere within the house, near the seed-pans. [According to the Grihya Sūtras, the couple ought to occupy the same mat, with the stick between them. This is not in vogue amongst several sections of Brāhmans. The Mysore Carnatakas, Mandya Aiyangars, and Shivallis, observe a kindred ceremony. Amongst the Mandyas, for example, on the fourth night of the marriage rites, the bridal couple occupy the same mat for a short time, and a stick is placed between them. The Pajamadmē, or mat marriage, amongst the Shivalli Brāhmans, evidently refers to this custom.] On the second and third days of the marriage ceremonies, hōmams are performed in the morning and evening, and the nalagu ceremony is [290]performed. In this, the couple are seated on two planks covered with mats and cloth, amidst a large number of women assembled within the pandal. In front of them, betel leaves, areca nuts, fruits, flowers, and turmeric paste are placed in a tray. The women sing songs which they have learnt from childhood, and the bride also sings the praises of the bridegroom. Taking a little of the turmeric paste rendered red by the addition of chunam (lime), she makes marks by drawing lines over the feet (nalangu idal). The ceremony closes with the waving of ārāthi (water coloured red with turmeric and chunam), and the distribution of pān-supāri (betel leaves and areca nuts). The waving is done by two women, who sing appropriate songs. On the fourth day, Brāhmans assemble, and the pair are seated in their midst. After the recitation of Vēdic verses, the contracting couple are blessed. A small quantity of turmeric paste, reddened by the addition of chunam, is mixed with ghī, and smeared over the shoulders of the pair, and a mark is made on their foreheads. This is called Pachchai Kalyānam, and is peculiar to Tamil Brāhmans, both Smarthas and Vaishnavas. Amongst Tamil Brāhmans, prominence is given to the maternal uncles on the fourth day. The bride and bridegroom are carried astride on the shoulders of their uncles, who dance to the strains of a band. When they meet, the couple exchange garlands (malaimāththal). Towards evening, a procession is got up at the expense of the maternal uncle of the bride, and is hence called Ammān Kōlam. The bride is dressed up as a boy, and another girl is dressed up to represent the bride. They are taken in procession through the streets, and, on their return, the pseudo-bridegroom is made to speak to the real bridegroom in somewhat insolent tones, and some mock play is [291]indulged in. The real bridegroom is addressed as if he was the syce (groom) or gumastha (clerk) of the pseudo-bridegroom, and is sometimes treated as a thief, and judgment passed on him by the latter. Among Sri Vaishnavas, after the Pachchai smearing ceremony, the bridal couple roll a cocoanut to and fro across the dais, and the assembled Brāhmans chant stanzas in Tamil composed by a Vaishnava lady named Āndal, an avatar of Lakshmi, who dedicated herself to Vishnu. In these stanzas, she narrates to her attendants the dream, in which she went through the marriage ceremony after her dedication to the god. Pān-supāri, of which a little, together with some money, is set apart for Āndal, is then distributed to all present. A large crowd generally assembles, as it is believed that the chanting of Āndal’s srisukthi (praise of Lakshmi) brings a general blessing. The family priest calls out the names and gōtras of those who have become related to the bride and bridegroom through their marriage. As each person’s name is called out, he or she is supposed to make a present of cloths, money, etc., to the bridegroom or bride. [The Telugu and Carnataka Brāhmans, instead of the Pachchai Kalyānam, perform a ceremony called Nāgavali on the fourth or fifth day. Thirty-two lights and two vessels, representing Siva and Parvathi, are arranged in the form of a square. Unbleached thread, soaked in turmeric paste, is passed round the square, and tied to the pandal. The bridal couple sit in front of the square, and, after doing pūja (worship), cut the thread, and take their seats within the square. The bridegroom ties a tāli of black glass beads on the bride’s neck, in the presence of 33 crores (330 millions) of gods, represented by a number of small pots arranged round the square. Close to the pots are the figures of two elephants, [292]designed in rice grains and salt respectively. After going round the pots, the couple separate, and the bridegroom stands by the salt elephant, and the bride by the other. They then talk about the money value of the two animals, and an altercation takes place, during which they again go round the pots, and stand, the bridegroom near the rice elephant, and the bride near the salt one. The bargaining as to the price of the animals is renewed, and the couple go round the pots once more. This ceremony is followed by a burlesque of domestic life. The bride is presented with two wooden dolls from Tirupati, and told to make a cradle out of the bridegroom’s turmeric-coloured cloth, which he wore on the tāli-tying day. The couple converse on domestic matters, and the bridegroom asks the bride to attend to her household affairs, so that he may go to his duties. She pleads her inability to do so because of the children, and asks him to take charge of them. She then shows the babies (dolls) to all present, and a good deal of fun is made out of the incident. The bride, with her mother standing by her side near two empty chairs, is then introduced to her new relations by marriage, who sit in pairs on the chairs, and make presents of pān-supāri and turmeric.] On the fifth day of the marriage ceremonies, before dawn, the bridal couple are seated on the dais, and the Gandharva stick is removed, with the words:—“Oh! Visvāwasu Gandharva, I pray to you to make this girl my wife. Unite her with me. Leave her, and seek another.” The bridegroom then performs hōmams. A coin is placed on the bride’s head, and a little ghī put thereon. Gazing at the bridegroom, she says:—“With a loving heart I regard thee who knowest my heart. Thou art radiant with tapas (penance). Fill me with a child, and this house of ours [293]with wealth. Thou art desirous of a son. Thus shalt thou reproduce thyself.” Looking at the bride, the bridegroom then says:—“I see thee radiant and eager to be filled with child by me. Thou art in thy youth now. Enjoy me, therefore, while I am over you, and so reproduce thyself, being desirous of a son.” Touching the bride’s breasts with his ring-finger, and then touching his heart, he repeats the following:—“May the Viswe gods unite our hearts; may the water unite our hearts; may Vāyu and Brahma unite our hearts; and may Sarasvati teach us both conversation appropriate to this occasion of our intercourse.” More Vēdic riks are then recited, as follows:—“Thou Prajāpathi, enter my body that I may have vigour during this act; so thou Thvastri, who fashionest forms with Vishnu and other gods; so thou Indra, who grantest boons with thy friends the Viswedēvas, by thy blessing may we have many sons. May Vishnu make thy womb ready; may Thvashtri frame the shape (of the child); may Prajāpathi pour forth (the sperm); may Dhatri give thee conception. Give conception, Sinivāli; give conception, Sarasvati. May the two Asvins, wreathed with lotus, give conception to thee. The embryo which the two Asvins produce with their golden kindling sticks, that embryo we call into thy womb, that thou mayst give birth to it after ten months. As the earth is pregnant with Agni, as the heaven is pregnant with Indra, as Vāyu dwells in the womb of the regions (of the earth), thus I place an embryo in thy womb. Open thy womb; take in the sperm. May a male child, an embryo, be begotten in the womb. The mother bears him ten months, may he be born, the most valiant of his kin. May a male embryo enter the womb, as an arrow the quiver; may a man be born here, thy son, after ten [294]months. I do with thee (the work) that is sacred to Prajāpathi; may an embryo enter the womb. May a child be born without deficiency, with all its limbs, not blind, not lame, not sucked out by Pisāchas” (devils). The marriage is brought to a close, after this recitation, with the presentation of fruits, etc., to all the Brāhmans assembled, and to all relations, children included. The bridegroom chews betel for the first time on this day. The wrist-threads are removed, and the seed-pans containing the seedlings, which have been worshipped daily, are taken in procession to a tank (pond), into which the seedlings are thrown.

It will be noticed that prayers for male issue are of frequent occurrence during the marriage ceremonial. In Sanskrit works, Putra (son) is defined as one who delivers a parent from a hell called put. It is generally believed that the welfare of a parent’s soul depends on the performance of srādh (memorial services) by his son. It was laid down by Manu that a man is perfect, when he consists of three—himself, his wife, and his son. In the Rig Vēda it is stated that “when a father sees the face of a living son, he pays a debt in him, and gains immortality. The pleasure which a father has in his son exceeds all other enjoyments. His wife is a friend, his daughter an object of companion, his son shines as his light in the highest world.” The following story of a certain pious man of ascetical temperament, who determined to shirk the religious duty of taking a wife, is narrated by Monier Williams:—“Quietly skipping over the second prescribed period of life, during which he ought to have been a householder (grihastha), he entered at once upon the third period—that is to say, he became an ascetic, abjured all female society, and retired to the woods. Wandering about one day, [295]absorbed in meditation, he was startled by an extraordinary spectacle. He saw before him a deep and apparently bottomless pit. Around its edge some unhappy men were hanging suspended by ropes of grass, at which here and there a rat was nibbling. On asking their history, he discovered to his horror that they were his own ancestors compelled to hang in this unpleasant manner, and doomed eventually to fall into the abyss, unless he went back into the world, did his duty like a man, married a suitable wife, and had a son, who would be able to release them from their critical predicament.” This legend is recorded in detail in the Mahābhārata.

A curious mock marriage ceremony is celebrated amongst Brāhmans when an individual marries a third wife. It is believed that a third marriage is very inauspicious, and that the bride will become a widow. To prevent this mishap, the man is made to marry the arka plant (Calotropis gigantea), and the real marriage thus becomes the fourth. If this ceremony is carried on in orthodox fashion, it is generally celebrated on some Sunday or Monday, when the constellation Astham is visible. The bridegroom and a Brāhman priest, accompanied by a third Brāhman, repair to a spot where the arka plant (a very common weed) is growing. The plant is decorated with a cloth and a piece of string, and symbolised into the sun. The bridegroom then invokes it thus:—“Oh! master of three lōks, Oh! the seven-horsed, Oh! Rāvi, avert the evils of the third marriage.” Next the plant is addressed with the words:—“You are the oldest of the plants of this world. Brahma created you to save such of us as have to marry a third time, so please become my wife.” The Brāhman who accompanies the bridegroom becomes his father-in-law for the moment, and says to him:—“I give you in marriage [296]Aditya’s great grand-daughter, Savi’s grand-daughter, and my daughter Arkakanya.” All the ceremonies, such as making hōmam, tāli-tying, etc., are performed as at a regular marriage, and, after the recitation of a few sentences from the Vēdas, the plant is cut down. “The plant,” Mr. A. Srinivasan writes,90 “is named arka after the sun. When the car of the sun turns towards the north, every Hindu applies the leaves of this plant to his head before he bathes, in honour of the event. The plant is, besides, believed to be a willing scapegoat to others’ ills. Oil and ghī applied to the head of the victim of persistent illness has only to be transferred to this plant, when it withers and saves the man, even as Baber is said to have saved his son. The poet Kalidāsa describes sweet Sakuntala, born of a shaggy dweller of the forest, as a garland of jasmine thrown on an arka plant. ‘May the arka grow luxuriant in your house’ is the commonest form of curse. ‘Be thou belaboured with arka leaves’ is familiar in the mouths of reprimanding mothers. Adulterers were, half a century ago, seated on an ass, face to the tail, and marched through the village. The public disgrace was enhanced by placing a garland of the despised arka leaves on their head. [Uppiliyan women convicted of immorality are said to be garlanded with arka flowers, and made to carry a basket of mud round the village.] A Telugu proverb asks ‘Does the bee ever seek the arka flower?’ The reasons for the ill-repute that this plant suffers from are not at all clear. The fact that it has a partiality for wastes has evidently brought on its devoted head the dismal associations of desolation, but there would seem to be more deep-seated hatred to the plant than has been [297]explained.” A Tamil proverb has it that he who crushes the bud of the arka earns merit. Some Telugu and Canarese Brāhmans, who follow the Yajur Vēda or Rig Vēda, consider the arka plant as sacred, and use the leaves thereof during the nāndhi (ancestor invoking) ceremony, which is performed as one of the marriage rites. Two or three arka leaves, with betel leaves and areca nuts, are tied to the cloth, which is attached to a stick as representing the ancestors (pithrus). With some the arka leaves are replaced by leaves of Pongamia glabra. On rathasapthami day (the seventh day after the new moon in the month Āvani), an orthodox Hindu should bathe his head and shoulders with arka leaves in propitiation of Sūrya (the sun). Brāhmans who follow the Sāma Vēda, during the annual upākarmam ceremony, make use of arka leaves and flowers in worshipping the Rishis and Pithrus. On the upākarmam day, the Sāma Vēdis invoke their sixty-two Rishis and the last three ancestors, who are represented by sixty-five clay balls placed on arka leaves. To them are offered arka flowers, fruits of karai-chedi (Canthium parviflorum), and nāval (Eugenia Jambolana). In addition to this worship, they perform the Rishi and Pithru tharpanam by offering water, gingelly (Sesamum indicum) seeds, and rice. The celebrant, prior to dipping his hand into the water, places in his hands two arka leaves, gingelly, and rice. The juice of the arka plant is a favourite agent in the hands of suicides. Among the Tangalān Paraiyans, if a young man dies before he is married, a ceremony called kannikazhithal (removing bachelorhood) is performed. Before the corpse is laid on the bier, a garland of arka flowers is placed round its neck, and balls of mud from a gutter are laid on the head, knees, and other parts of the body. In some places a variant of the [298]ceremony consists in the erection of a mimic marriage booth, which is covered with leaves of the arka plant, flowers of which are also placed round the neck as a garland. At a form of marriage called rambha or kathali (plantain) marriage, the arka plant is replaced by a plantain tree (Musa). It is performed by those who happen to be eldest brothers, and who are incapable of getting married, so as to give a chance to younger brothers, who are not allowed to marry unless the elder brother or brothers are already married.

At the present day, many Hindus disregard certain ceremonies, in the celebration of which their forefathers were most scrupulous. Even the daily ceremonial ablutions, which are all important to a Brāhman from a shāstraic point of view, are now neglected by a large majority, and the prayers (mantrams), which should be chanted during their performance, are forgotten. But no Brāhman, orthodox or unorthodox, dares to abandon the death ceremonial, and annual srādh (memorial rites). A Brāhman beggar, when soliciting alms, invariably pleads that he has to perform his father or mother’s srādh, or upanayanam (thread ceremony) of his children, and he rarely goes away empty-handed. “The constant periodical performance,” Monier Williams writes,91 “of commemorative obsequies is regarded in the light of a positive and peremptory obligation. It is the simple discharge of a solemn debt to one’s forefathers, a debt consisting not only in reverential homage, but in the performance of acts necessary to their support, happiness, and progress onwards in the spiritual world. A man’s deceased relatives, for at least three generations, are among his cherished divinities, and must be honoured [299]by daily offerings and adoration, or a nemesis of some kind is certain to overtake his living family. The object of a Hindu funeral is nothing less than the investiture of the departed spirit with an intermediate gross body—a peculiar frame interposed, as it were parenthetically, between the terrestrial gross body, which has just been destroyed by fire, and the new terrestrial body, which it is compelled to ultimately assume. The creation of such an intervenient frame, composed of gross elements, though less gross than those of earth, becomes necessary, because the individualised spirit of man, after the cremation of the terrestrial body, has nothing left to withhold it from re-absorption into the universal soul, except its incombustible subtle body, which, as composed of the subtle elements, is not only proof against the fire of the funeral pile, but is incapable of any sensations in the temporary heaven, or temporary hell, through one or other of which every separate human spirit is forced to pass before returning to earth, and becoming re-invested with a terrestrial gross body.”

When a Brāhman is on the point of death, he is removed from his bed, and laid on the floor. If there is any fear of the day being a danishtapanchami (inauspicious), the dying man is taken out of the house, and placed in the court-yard or pial (raised verandah). Some prayers are uttered, and a cow is presented (gōdhanam). These are intended to render the passage of life through the various parts of the body as easy as possible. The spirit is supposed to escape through one of the nine orifices of the body, according to the character of the individual concerned. That of a good man leaves the body through the brahmarandhra (top of the skull), and that of a bad man through the anus. Immediately after death, the body is washed, religious marks are made on [300]the forehead, and parched paddy and betel are scattered over and around it by the son. As a Brāhman is supposed always to have his fire with him, the sacred fire is lighted. At this stage, certain purificatory ceremonies are performed, if death has taken place on a day or hour of evil omen, or at midnight. Next, a little cooked rice is cooked in a new earthen pot, and a new cloth is thrown over the corpse, which is roused by the recitation of mantrams. Four bearers, to each of whom dharbha grass is given in token of his office, are selected to carry the corpse to the burning-ground. The eldest son, who is the funeral celebrant, and his brothers are shaved. On ordinary occasions, brothers should not be shaved on the same day, as this would be inauspicious. They are only shaved on the same day on the occasion of the death of their father or mother. The widow of the deceased, and female relations, go three times round the corpse, before it is placed on the bier. Very often, at this stage, all the women present set up a loud lamentation, and repeat the death songs.92 If the dead person was a respected elder, special professional women, trained as mourners, are engaged. I am informed that, in the Coimbatore district, and amongst the Sathyamangalam Brahacharanams, there are certain widows who are professional mourners. As soon as they hear of the death of an elder, they repair to the house, and worry the bereaved family into engaging them for a small fee. The space, which intervenes between the dead man’s house and the burning-ground, is divided into four parts. When the end of the first of these is reached, the corpse is placed on the ground, and the sons and nephews go round it, repeating mantrams. They untie their kudumis [301](hair knot), leaving part thereof loose, tie up the rest into a small bunch, and keep on slapping their thighs. [When children at play have their kudumi partially tied, and slap their thighs, they are invariably scolded, owing to the association with funerals.] A little cooked rice is offered to the path as a pathi bali (wayside offering), to propitiate evil spirits, or bhūthas. The same ceremonial should, strictly speaking, be performed at two other spots, but now-a-days it is the custom to place the corpse on the ground near the funeral pyre, moving its position three times, while the circumambulation and pathi bali are gone through only once. As soon as the corpse has reached the spot where the pyre is, the celebrant of the rites sprinkles water thereon, and throws a quarter of an anna on it as the equivalent of purchase of the ground for cremation. The sacred fire is lighted, and the right palm of the corpse is touched with a gold coin. The nine orifices of the body are then smeared with ghī, and rice is thrown over the corpse, and placed in its mouth. The son takes a burning brand from the sacred fire, lights the pyre, and looks at the sun. He then carries a pot filled with water, having a hole at the bottom through which the water trickles out, on his shoulders three times round the corpse, and, at the end of the third round, throws it down. Then he, and all the relations of the deceased, squat on the ground, facing east, take up some dharbha grass, and, cutting it into small fragments with their nails, scatter them in the air, while repeating some Vēdic verses, which are chanted very loudly and slowly, especially at the funeral of a respected elder. The celebrant then pours a little water on a stone, and sprinkles himself with it. This is also done by the other relations, and they pass beneath a bundle of dharbha grass and twigs of Ficus glomerata held by the purōhit (officiating [302]priest), and gaze for a moment at the sun. Once more they sprinkle themselves with water, and proceed to a tank, where they bathe. When they return home, two rites, called nagna (naked) srādh, and pāshāna sthāpanam (stone-fixing), are celebrated. The disembodied spirit is supposed to be naked after the body has been cremated. To clothe it, offerings of water, with balls of cooked rice, are made, and a cloth, lamp, and money are given to a Brāhman. Then two stones are set up, one in the house and the other on the bank of a tank, to represent the spirit of the deceased. For ten days, libations of water mixed with gingelly seeds, called tīlothakam, and a ball of cooked rice, must be offered to the stones. The ball of rice is left for crows to eat. The number of libations must be seventy-five, commencing with three on the first day, and increasing the number daily by one. In addition, three further libations are made daily by dipping a piece of cloth from the winding-sheet, and rinsing it over the stone (vasothakam). On the day after cremation, the relations assemble at the burning-ground, and the son, after extinguishing the burning embers, removes the fragments of bones from the ashes. The ceremony is called sanchyanam (gathering). Cooked food is offered. The bones are thrown into some sacred river, or buried in the ground. On the tenth day after death, a large quantity of cooked rice (prabhūthabali) is offered to the spirit of the dead person, which is believed to grow very hungry on that day. The food is heaped up on plantain leaves, and all the near relations go round them, crying and beating their breasts. It is mostly females who perform this rite, males standing aloof. The food is taken to a tank, and the widow, decorated and dressed up, is conducted thither. The food is thrown into the water, and, if the widow is an elderly [303]orthodox woman, her tāli is removed. On the same day, her head is clean shaved. A widow is not allowed to adorn herself with jewels and finery except on this day, when all her close relations come and see her. If this is not done, pregnant women may not see her for a year. All the agnates should be present on the tenth day, and perform tharpana (oblations of water). Until this day they are under pollution, and, after prabhūthabali, they bathe, and hōmam is performed. Some ashes from the sacred fire are mixed with ghī, and a mark is made on the foreheads of those who are under pollution, to remove it. During the period of pollution, a Sri Vaishnava will have only a white mark without the red streak on his forehead; a Mādhva will not have the black dot; and Smarthas avoid having marks altogether. The tenth day ceremony is called Dasāham. On the eleventh day, a ceremony called Ēkodishtam (eleventh day ceremony) is performed. A Brāhman is seated to represent the prētha or dead person, and fed after going through srādh rites. As a rule, the man is a close relation of the deceased. But, amongst certain classes of Brāhmans, an outsider is engaged, and well remunerated. On the twelfth day, the Sapindikaranam (sapinda, kinsman) ceremony, which is just like the ordinary srādh, is performed. At the close thereof, six balls of cooked rice are offered to three ancestors, male and female (three balls for males, and three for females). These balls are arranged in two rows, with a space between them. An elongated mass of food is placed between the rows, and divided with blades of dharbha grass into three portions, which are arranged close to the balls of rice. This is regarded as uniting the dead man with the pitris (ancestors). A cow is usually presented just before the union takes place, and the gift [304]is believed to render the crossing of the river Vaitarani (river of death) easy for the departed soul. The Sapindikaranam is a very important ceremony. When there is a dispute concerning division of property on the death of an individual, the ceremony is not performed until the parties come to an agreement. For instance, if a married man dies without issue, and his widow’s brothers-in-law cannot come to terms as regards the partition of the property, the widow may refuse to allow the performance of the ceremony. The Sapindikaranam should, according to the shāstras, be performed a year after death, i.e., on the completion of all the Māsikas (monthly srādhs). But, at the present day, a ceremony called Shōdasam (the sixteen) is performed just before the Sapindikaranam on the twelfth day. In the course of the year, twelve monthly and four quarterly srādhs should be performed. The Shōdasam ceremony, which is carried out in lieu thereof, consists in giving presents of money and vessels to sixteen Brāhmans. On the twelfth day, a feast is held, and domestic worship is carried out on a large scale. At the close thereof, a slōka called Charma slōka, in praise of the deceased, is composed and repeated by some one versed in Sanskrit. Every month, for a year after a death in a family, srādh should, as indicated, be performed. This corresponds in detail with the annual srādh, which is regularly performed, unless a visit is paid to Gaya, which renders further performance of the rite not obligatory. For the performance of this ceremony by the nearest agnate of the deceased (eldest son or other), three Brāhmans should be called in, to represent respectively Vishnu, the Dēvatas, and the ancestors. Sometimes two Brāhmans are made to suffice, and Vishnu is represented by a sālagrāma stone. In extreme cases, only one Brāhman [305]assists at the ceremony, the two others being represented by dharbha grass. The sacred fire is lighted, and ghī, a small quantity of raw and cooked rice, and vegetables are offered up in the fire. The Brāhmans then wash their feet, and are fed. Before they enter the space set apart for the meal, water, gingelly, and rice are sprinkled about it, to keep off evil spirits. As soon as the meal is finished, a ball of rice, called vāyasa pindam (crow’s food), is offered to the pithru dēvatas (ancestors of three generations), and thrown to the crows. If they do not eat the rice, the omens are considered to be unfavourable. The Brāhmans receive betel and money in payment for their services. On one occasion my assistant was in camp at Kodaikānal on the Palni hills, the higher altitudes of which are uninhabited by crows, and he had perforce to march down to the plains, in order to perform the annual ceremony for his deceased father. The recurring annual srādh (Pratyābdhika) need not of necessity be performed. It is, however, regarded as an important ceremony, and, should an individual neglect it, he would run the risk of being excommunicated.

The rites connected with the dead are based on the Garuda Purāna, according to which the libations of the ten days are said to help the growth of the body of the soul. In this connection, Monier Williams writes as follows:—93“On the first day, the ball (pinda) of rice offered by the eldest son or other near relative nourishes the spirit of the deceased in such a way as to furnish it with a head; on the second day, the offered pinda gives a neck and shoulders; on the third day a heart; on the fourth a back; on the fifth a navel; on the sixth a groin [306]and the parts usually concealed; on the seventh thighs; on the eighth and ninth knees and feet. On the tenth day, the intermediate body is sufficiently formed to produce the sensation of hunger and thirst. Other pindas are therefore put before it, and, on the eleventh and twelfth days, the embodied spirit feeds voraciously on the offerings thus supplied, and so gains strength for its journey to its future abode. Then, on the thirteenth day after death, it is conducted either to heaven or hell. If to the latter, it has need of the most nourishing food, to enable it to bear up against the terrible ordeal which awaits it.”

To the Hindu mind, Yama (the god of death) is a hideous god, whose servants are represented as being capable of tormenting the soul of the dead. “No sooner,” writes Monier Williams, “has death occurred, and cremation of the terrestrial body taken place, than Yama’s two messengers (Yama Dūtan), who are waiting near at hand, make themselves visible to the released spirit, which retains its subtle body composed of the subtle elements, and is said to be of the size of a thumb (angustha-mātra). Their aspect is terrific, for they have glaring eyes, hair standing erect, gnashing teeth, crow-black skin, and claw-like nails, and they hold in their hands the awful rod and noose of Yama. Then, as if their appearance in this form were not sufficiently alarming, they proceed to terrify their victim by terrible visions of the torments (yātana) in store for him. They then convey the bound spirit along the road to Yama’s abode. Being led before Yama’s judgment seat, it is confronted with his Registrar or Recorder named Chitra Gupta. This officer stands by Yama’s side, with an open book before him. It is his business to note down all the good and evil deeds of [307]every human being born into the world, with the resulting merit (punya) and demerit (pāpa), and to produce a debtor and creditor account properly made up and balanced on the day when that being is brought before Yama. According to the balance on the side of merit or demerit is judgment pronounced. The road by which Yama’s two officers force a wicked man to descend to the regions of torment is described in the first two chapters of the Garuda Purāna. The length of the way is said to be 86,000 leagues (yojanas). The condemned soul, invested with its sensitive body, and made to travel at the rate of 200 leagues a day, finds no shady trees, no resting place, no food, no water. At one time it is scorched by a burning heat equal to that of twelve meridian suns, at another it is pierced by icy cold winds; now its tender frame is rent by thorns; now it is attacked by lions, tigers, savage dogs, venomous serpents, and scorpions. In one place it has to traverse a dense forest, whose leaves are swords; in another it falls into deep pits; in another it is precipitated from precipices; in another it has to walk on the edge of razors; in another on iron spikes. Here it stumbles about helplessly in profound darkness; there it struggles through loathsome mud swarming with leeches; here it toils through burning sand; there its progress is arrested by heaps of red-hot charcoal and stifling smoke. Compelled to pass through every obstacle, however formidable, it next encounters a succession of terrific showers, not of rain, but of live coals, stones, blood, boiling water and filth. Then it has to descend into appalling fissures, or ascend to sickening heights, or lose itself in vast caves, or wade through lakes seething with fœtid ordures. Then midway it has to pass the awful river Vaitarani, one hundred leagues in breadth, of unfathomable depth; [308]flowing with irresistible impetuosity; filled with blood, matter, hair, and bones; infested with huge sharks, crocodiles, and sea monsters; darkened by clouds of hideous vultures and obscene birds of prey. Thousands of condemned spirits stand trembling on the banks, horrified by the prospect before them. Consumed by a raging thirst, they drink the blood which flows at their feet; then, tumbling headlong into the torrent, they are overwhelmed by the rushing waves. Finally, they are hurried down to the lowest depths of hell, and yet not destroyed. Pursued by Yama’s officers, they are dragged away, and made to undergo inconceivable tortures, the detail of which is given with the utmost minuteness in the succeeding chapters of the Garuda Purāna.”

The Ahannikams, or daily observances, of a religious Brāhman are very many. Nowadays, Brāhmans who lead a purely religious life are comparatively few, and are mostly found in villages. The daily observances of such are the bath, the performance of the Sandhya service, Brahma yagna, Dēva pūja or Dēvatarchana, Tarpana (oblations of water), Vaisvadēva ceremony, and the reading of Purānas or Ithihāsas. Every orthodox Brāhman is expected to rise at the time called Brahma Muhūrtam in the hour and a half before sunrise. He should then clean his teeth, using as a brush mango leaf, or twigs of Acacia arabica or nīm (Melia Azadirachta). He next bathes in a river or tank (pond), standing knee-deep in the water, and repeating the following:—“I am about to perform the morning ablution in this sacred stream (Ganges, Sarasvati, Yamuna, Godāvari, etc.), in the presence of the gods and Brāhmans, with a view to the removal of guilt resulting from act, speech, and thought, from what has been touched and untouched, known and unknown, eaten and not eaten, drunk and [309]not drunk.” After the bath, he wipes his body with a damp cloth, and puts on his cotton madi cloth, which has been washed and dried. The cloth, washed, wrung, and hung up to dry, should not be touched by anybody. If this should happen prior to the bath, the cloth is polluted, and ceases to be madi. A silk cloth, which cannot be polluted, is substituted for it. The madi or silk cloth should be worn until the close of the morning ceremonies and meal. The man next puts the marks which are characteristic of his sect on the forehead and body, and performs the Sandhya service. This is very important, and is binding on all Brāhmans after the Upanayanam ceremony, though a large number are not particular in observing it. According to the shāstras, the Sandhya should be done in the morning and evening; but in practice there is an additional service at midday. Sandhyāvandhanam means the thanksgiving to God when day and night meet in the morning and evening. The rite commences with the sipping of water (āchamanam) from the hollow of the right palm. This is done three times, while the words Achyuthāyanamaha, Anantāyanamaha, and Govindāyana are repeated. Immediately after sipping, twelve parts of the body are touched with the fingers of the right hand in the following order:—

The two cheeks with the thumb, repeating the names Kēsava and Narāyana;

The two eyes with the ring-finger, repeating Mādhava and Govinda;

The two sides of the nose with the forefinger, repeating Vishnu and Madhusūdhana;

The two ears with the little finger, repeating Trivkrama and Vāmana;

The shoulders with the middle finger, repeating Sridhara and Rishikēsa; [310]

The navel and head with all the fingers, repeating Padmanabha and Damōdar.

This Āchamana is the usual preliminary to all Brāhman religious rites. The water sipped is believed to cleanse the internal parts of the body, as bathing cleanses the external parts.

After Āchamana comes Prānāyāma, or holding in of vital breath, which consists in repeating the Gāyatri (hymn) and holding the breath by three distinct operations, viz:—

Pūraka, or pressing the right nostril with the fingers, and drawing in the breath through the left nostril, and vice versâ.

Kumbhaka, or pressing both nostrils with finger and thumb or with all the fingers, and holding the breath as long as possible.

Rēchaka, or pressing the right nostril with the thumb, and expelling the breath through the left nostril, and vice versâ.

The suppression of the breath is said to be a preliminary yōga practice, enabling a person to fix his mind on the Supreme Being who is meditated on.

The celebrant next repeats the Sankalpa (determination), with the hands brought together, the right palm over the left, and placed on the right thigh. Every kind of ceremony commences with the Sankalpa, which, for the Sandhya service, is as follows:—“I am worshipping for the removal of all my sins that have adhered to me, and for the purpose of acquiring the favour of Narāyana or the Supreme Being.” The performer of the rite then sprinkles himself with water, repeating:—“Oh! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food, so that our senses may grow strong and give us joy. Make us the recipients of your essence, which is the [311]most blissful, just as affectionate mothers (feed their children with milk from their breasts). May we obtain enough of that essence of yours, the existence of which within you makes you feel glad. Oh! waters, grant us offspring.” He then takes up the water in his palm, and drinks it, repeating the following:—“May the sun and anger, may the lords of anger, preserve me from my sins of pride and passion. Whate’er the nightly sins of thought, word, deed, wrought by my mind, my speech, my hands, my feet; wrought through my appetite and sensual organs; may the departing night remove them all. In thy immortal light, Oh! radiant sun, I offer up myself and this my guilt.” At the evening service, the same is repeated, with the word Agni instead of Sūrya (sun). At the midday service the following is recited:—“May the waters purify the earth by pouring down rain. May the earth thus purified make us pure. May the waters purify my spiritual preceptor, and may the Vēda (as taught by the purified preceptor) purify me. Whatever leavings of another’s food, and whatever impure things I may have eaten, whatever I may have received as gift from the unworthy, may the waters destroy all that sin and purify me. For this purpose, I pour this sanctified water as a libation down my mouth.” Once more the celebrant sprinkles himself with water, and says:—“I sing the praise of the god Dadikrāvan, who is victorious, all-pervading, and who moves with great speed. May he make our mouths (and the senses) fragrant, and may he prolong our lives. Oh! ye waters, the sources of all comforts, grant us food,” etc.

The ceremonies performed so far are intended for both external and internal purification. By their means, the individual is supposed to have made himself worthy to salute the Lord who resides in the orb of the rising [312]luminary, and render him homage in true Brāhman style by what is called Arghya. This is an offering of water to any respected guest. Repeating the Gāyatri, the worshipper throws water in the air from the palms of the hands joined together with the sacred thread round the thumbs. The Gāyatri is the hymn par excellence, and is said to contain the sum and substance of all Vēdic teaching.

After these items, the worshipper sits down, and does Japam (recitation of prayers in an undertone). The Gāyatri, as repeated, consists of the Gāyatri proper Vyāhritis, and Gāyatri Siromantra. It runs as follows:—

Ōm, Bhuh; Ōm, Bhuvah;

Ōm, Suvah; Ōm, Mahaha;

Ōm, Janaha; Ōm, Thapaha;

Ōm, Sathyam.

Ōm, Thatsaviturvārēnyam;

Bhargodēvasya dhimahi dhiyo-yonah prachodāyat;

Ōm, Jyotiraso amrutam

Brahma, Bhur, Bhuvasvarūm.

The Vyāhritis are generally taken to refer to the seven worlds, and the prefixing of the Pranava (Ōm) means that all these worlds have sprung from the Supreme Being. The Pranava given above means “All the seven worlds are (the visible manifestations of) Ōm, the all-pervading Brāhman. We think of the adorable light of the Lord, who shines in our hearts, and guides us. May he guide our intellects aright. Water, light, all things that have savour (such as trees, herbs, and plants), the nectar of the gods, the three worlds, in fact everything that is Brāhman, the universal soul.”

The mystic syllable Ōm is the most sacred of all Hindu utterances. Concerning it, Monier Williams writes that it is “made up of the three letters A, U, M, [313]and symbolical of the threefold manifestation of the one Supreme Being in the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and is constantly repeated during the Sandhya service. This prayer is, as we have seen, the most sacred of all Vēdic utterances, and, like the Lord’s Prayer among Christians, or like the Fatihah or opening chapter of the Kuran among Muhammadans, must always, among Hindus, take precedence of all other forms of supplication.”

The celebrant next proceeds to invoke the Gāyatri Dēvata thus:—“May the goddess Gāyatri Dēvata, who grants all our desires, come to us to make known to us the eternal Lord, who is revealed to us only through the scriptures. May the Gāyatri, the mother of all the Vēdas, reveal to us the eternal truth. Oh! Gāyatri, thou art the source of all spiritual strength. Thou art the power that drivest away the evil inclinations which are mine enemies. Thou, by conducing to a sound mind, conducest to a sound body. Thou art the light of the gods, that dispellest my intellectual darkness, and illuminest my heart with divine wisdom. Thou art all. In the whole universe there is naught but thee that is. Thou art the eternal truth that destroys all sins. Thou art the Pranava that reveals to me the unknown. Come to my succour, Oh! thou Gāyatri, and make me wise.” This invocation is followed by the repetition of the Gāyatri 108 or only 28 times. The celebrant then says:—“The goddess Gāyatri resides on a lofty peak on the summit of mount Mēru (whose base is deeply fixed) in the earth. Oh! thou goddess, take leave from the Brāhmans (who have worshipped thee, and been blessed with thy grace), and go back to thy abode as comfortably as possible.” The Sandhya service is closed with the following prayer to the rising sun:—“We sing the adorable glory of [314]the sun god, who sustains all men (by causing rain); which glory is eternal, and most worthy of being adored with wonder. The sun, well knowing the inclinations of men, directs them to their several pursuits. The sun upholds both heaven and earth; the sun observes all creatures (and their actions) without ever winking. To this eternal being we offer the oblation mixed with ghī. Oh! sun, may that man who through such sacrifice offers oblations to thee become endowed with wealth and plenty. He who is under thy protection is not cut off by untimely death; he is not vanquished by anybody, and sin has no hold on this man either from near or from afar.” In the evening, the following prayer to Varuna is substituted:—“Hear, Oh! Varuna, this prayer of mine. Be gracious unto me this day. Longing for thy protection, I cry to thee. Adoring thee with prayer, I beg long life of thee. The sacrificer does the same with the oblations he offers thee. Therefore, Oh! Varuna, without indifference in this matter, take my prayer into your kind consideration, and do not cut off our life. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever law of thine we, as men, violate day after day, forgive us these trespasses. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever offence we, as men, have committed against divine beings, whatever work of thine we have neglected through ignorance, do not destroy us, Oh! Lord, for such sin. Whatever sin is attributed to us by our enemies, as by gamblers at dice, whatever sins we may have really committed, and what we may have done without knowing, do thou scatter and destroy all these sins. Then, Oh! Lord, we shall become beloved of thee.” The Sandhya prayer closes with the Abhivādhana or salutation, which has been given in the account of marriage. After the Sandhya service in the morning, the Brahma yagna, or [315]worship of the Supreme Being as represented in the sacred books is gone through. The first hymn of the Rig Vēda is recited in detail, and then follow the first words of the Yajur Vēda, Sāma Vēda, Atharvana Vēda, the Nirukta, etc.

The next item is the Tarpana ceremony, or offering of water to the Dēvatas, Rishis, and Pitris. The sacred thread is placed over the left shoulder and under the right arm (upavīta), and water is taken in the right hand, and poured as an offering to the Dēvatas. Then, with the sacred thread round the neck like a necklace (niviti), the worshipper pours water for the Rishis. Lastly, the sacred thread is placed over the right shoulder (prāchinā vīthi) and water is poured for the Pitris (ancestors).

The various ceremonies described so far should be performed by all the male members of a family, whereas the daily Dēvatarchana or Dēvata pūja is generally done by any one member of a family. The gods worshipped by pious Brāhmans are Siva and Vishnu, and their consorts Parvati and Lakshmi. Homage is paid thereto through images, sālagrāma stones, or stone lingams. In the house of a Brāhman, a corner or special room is set apart for the worship of the god. Some families keep their gods in a small almirah (chest).

Smarthas use in their domestic worship five stones, viz.:—

  • 1. Sālagrāma, representing Vishnu.
  • 2. Bāna linga, a white stone representing the essence of Siva.
  • 3. A red stone (jasper), representing Ganēsha.
  • 4. A bit of metallic ore, representing Parvathi, or a lingam representing Siva and Parvathi.
  • 5. A piece of pebble or crystal, to represent the sun.

Smarthas commence their worship by invoking the aid of Vignēswara (Ganēsha). Then, placing a vessel [316](kalasa) filled with water, they utter the following prayer. “In the mouth of the water-vessel abideth Vishnu, in its lower part is Brahma, while the whole company of the mothers (mātris) are congregated in its middle part. Oh! Ganges, Yamunā, Godāvari, Sarasvati, Narmadā, Sindhu, and Kāveri, be present in this water.” The conch or chank shell (Turbinella rapa) is then worshipped as follows:—“Oh! conch shell, thou wast produced in the sea, and art held by Vishnu in his hand. Thou art worshipped by all the gods. Receive my homage.” The bell is then worshipped with the prayer:—“Oh! bell, make a sound for the approach of the gods, and for the departure of the demons. Homage to the goddess Ghantā (bell). I offer perfumes, grains of rice, and flowers, in token of rendering all due homage to the bell.” The worshipper claps his hands, and rings the bell. All the tulsi (sacred basil, Ocimum sanctum) leaves, flowers, sandal paste, etc., used for worship on the previous day, are removed. “The tulsi is the most sacred plant in the Hindu religion; it is consequently found in or near almost every Hindu house throughout India. Hindu poets say that it protects from misfortune, and sanctifies and guides to heaven all who cultivate it. The Brahmins hold it sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu. The story goes that this plant is the transformed nymph Tulasi, beloved of Krishna, and for this reason near every Hindu house it is cultivated in pots, or in brick or earthen pillars with hollows at the top (brindāvanam or brinda forest), in which earth is deposited. It is daily watered, and worshipped by all the members of the family. Under favourable circumstances, it grows to a considerable size, and furnishes a woody stem large enough to make beads for the rosaries used by Hindus, on which they count the number of recitations [317]of their deity’s name.”94 Writing in the seventeenth century, Vincenzo Maria95 observes that “almost all the Hindus ... adore a plant like our Basilico gentile, but of a more pungent odour.... Every one before his house has a little altar, girt with a wall half an ell high, in the middle of which they erect certain pedestals like little towers, and in these the shrub is grown. They recite their prayers daily before it, with repeated prostrations, sprinklings of water, etc. There are also many of these maintained at the bathing-places, and in the courts of the pagodas.” The legend, accounting for the sanctity of the tulsi, is told in the Padma Purāna.96 From the union of the lightning that flashed from the third eye of Siva with the ocean, a boy was born, whom Brahmadēv caught up, and to whom he gave the name of Jalandhar. And to him Brahmadēv gave the boon that by no hand but Siva’s could he perish. Jalandhar grew up strong and tall, and conquered the kings of the earth, and, in due time, married Vrinda (or Brinda), the daughter of the demon Kalnemi. Naradmuni, the son of Brahmadēv, stirred up hatred against Siva in Jalandhar, and they fought each other on the slopes of Kailās. But even Siva could not prevail against Jalandhar, so long as his wife Vrinda remained chaste. So Vishnu, who had lived with her and Jalandhar, and had learnt their secret, plotted her downfall. One day, when she, sad at Jalandhar’s absence, had left her garden to walk in the waste beyond, two demons met her and pursued her. She ran, with the demons following, until she saw a Rishi, at whose feet she fell, [318]and asked for shelter. The Rishi, with his magic, burnt up the demons into thin ash. Vrinda then asked for news of her husband. At once, two apes laid before her Jalandhar’s head, feet, and hands. Vrinda, thinking that he was dead, begged the Rishi to restore him to her. The Rishi said that he would try, and in a moment he and the corpse had disappeared, and Jalandhar stood by her. She threw herself into his arms, and they embraced each other. But, some days later, she learnt that he with whom she was living was not her husband, but Vishnu, who had taken his shape. She cursed Vishnu, and foretold that, in a later Avatar, the two demons who had frightened her would rob him of his wife; and that, to recover her, he would have to ask the aid of the apes who had brought Jalandhar’s head, feet, and hands. Vrinda then threw herself into a burning pit, and Jalandhar, once Vrinda’s chastity had gone, fell a prey to Siva’s thunderbolts. Then the gods came forth from their hiding place, and garlanded Siva. The demons were driven back to hell, and men once more passed under the tyranny of the gods. But Vishnu came not back from Vrinda’s palace, and those who sought him found him mad from grief, rolling in her ashes. Then Parvati, to break the charm of Vrinda’s beauty, planted in her ashes three seeds. And they grew into three plants, the tulsi, the avali, and the malti. By the growth of these seeds, Vishnu was released from Vrinda’s charm. Therefore he loved them all, but chiefly the tulsi plant, which, as he said, was Vrinda’s very self. In the seventh incarnation, the two demons, who had frightened Vrinda, became Ravan and his brother Kumbhakarna, and they bore away Sīta to Lanka. To recover her, Ramchandra had to implore the help of the two apes who had brought her Jalandhar’s head and [319]hands, and in this incarnation they became Hanuman and his warriors. But, in the eighth incarnation, which was that of Krishna, the tulsi plant took the form of a woman Rādha, and wedded the gay and warlike lord of Dwarka.

The Shōdasopachāra, or sixteen acts of homage, are next performed in due order, viz.—

  • 1. Āvahana, or invocation of the gods.
  • 2. Āsanam, or seat.
  • 3. Pādhya, or water for washing the feet.
  • 4. Arghya, or oblation of rice or water.
  • 5. Āchamanam, or water for sipping.
  • 6. Snānam, or the bath.
  • 7. Vastra, or clothing of tulsi leaves.
  • 8. Upavastra, or upper clothing of tulsi leaves.
  • 9. Gandha, or sandal paste.
  • 10. Pushpa, or flowers.
  • 11. 12. Dhūpa and Dhipa, or incense and light.
  • 13. Naivēdya, or offering of food.
  • 14. Pradakshina, or circumambulation.
  • 15. Mantrapushpa, or throwing flowers.
  • 16. Namaskāra, or salutation by prostration.

While the five stones already referred to are bathed by pouring water from a conch shell, the Purusha Sūktha, or hymn of the Rig Vēda, is repeated. This runs as follows:—“Purusha has thousands of heads, thousands of arms, thousands of eyes, and thousands of feet. On every side enveloping the earth, he transcended this mere space of ten fingers. Purusha himself is this whole (universe); whatever has been, and whatever shall be. He is also the lord of immortality, since through food he expands. Such is his greatness, and Purusha is superior to this. All existing things are a quarter of him, and that which is immortal in the sky is three quarters of him. With three quarters Purusha mounted upwards. A quarter of him was again [320]produced below. He then became diffused everywhere among things, animate and inanimate. From him Viraj was born, and from Viraj Purusha. As soon as born, he extended beyond the earth, both behind and before. When the gods offered up Purusha as a sacrifice, the spring was its clarified butter (ghī), summer its fuel, and the autumn the oblation. This victim, Purusha born in the beginning, they consecrated on the sacrificial grass. With him as their offering, the Gods, Sadhyas, and Rishis sacrificed. From that universal oblations were produced curds and clarified butter. He, Purusha, formed the animals which are subject to the power of the air (Vāyavya), both wild and tame. From that universal sacrifice sprang the hymns called Rik and Saman, the Metres, and the Yajus. From it were produced horses, and all animals with two rows of teeth, cows, goats, and sheep. When they divided Purusha, into how many parts did they distribute him? What was his mouth? What were his arms? What were called his thighs and feet? The Brāhman was his mouth; the Rājanya became his arms; the Vaisya was his thighs; the Sūdra sprang from his feet. The moon was produced from his soul; the sun from his eye; Indra and Agni from his mouth; Vāyu from his breath. From his navel came the atmosphere; from his head arose the sky; from his feet came the earth; from his ears the four quarters; so they formed the worlds. When the gods, in performing their sacrifice, bound Purusha as a victim, there were seven pieces of wood laid for him round the fire, and thrice seven pieces of fuel employed. With sacrifice the gods worshipped the sacrifice. These were the primæval rites. These great beings attained to the heaven, where the Gods, the ancient Sādhyas, reside.” [321]

Some Smarthas, e.g., the Brahacharnams, are more Saivite than other sections of Tamil-speaking Brāhmans. During worship, they wear round the neck rudrāksha (Elæocarpus Ganitrus) beads, and place on their head a lingam made thereof. In connection with the rudrāksha, the legend runs that Siva or Kālāgni Rudra, while engaged in Tripura Samhāra, opened his third eye, which led to the destruction of the three cities, of which Rākshasas or Asuras had taken the form. From this eye liquid is said to have trickled on the ground, and from this arose the rudrāksha tree. The mere mention of the word rudrāksha is believed to secure religious merit, which may be said to be equivalent to the merit obtained by the gift of ten cows to Brāhmans. Rudrāksha beads are valued according to the number of lobes (or faces, as they are called), which are ordinarily five in number. A bead with six lobes is said to be very good, and one with two lobes, called Gauri Sankara rudrāksha, is specially valued. Dīkshitar Brāhmans, and Pandāram priests of the higher order, wear a two-lobed bead mounted in gold. In a manuscript entitled Rudrākshopanishad, it is stated that a good rudrāksha bead, when rubbed with water, should colour the water yellow. The Mādhvas worship in the same way as Smarthas, but the objects of worship are the sālagrāma stone, and images of Hanumān and Ādi Sēsha. Food offered to Ādi Sēsha, Lakshmi, and Hanumān, is not eaten, but thrown away. The Mādhvas attach great importance to their spiritual guru, who is first worshipped by a worshipper. Some keep a brindāvanam, representing the grave of their guru, along with a sālagrāma stone, which is worshipped at the close of the Dēvata pūja. Sri Vaishnavas keep for domestic worship only sālagrāma stones. Like the Mādhvas, they are scrupulous as to the worship of their [322]gurus (ācharyas), without whose intervention they believe that they cannot obtain beatitude. Hence Sri Vaishnavites insist upon the Samāsrayanam ceremony. After the Sandhya service and Brahma yagna, the guru is worshipped. All orthodox Vaishnavas keep with them a silk cloth bearing the impressions of the feet of their Ācharya, an abhayastha or impression of the hand of Vishnu in sandal paste, a few necklaces of silk thread (pavitram), and a bit of the bark of the tamarind tree growing at the temple at Ālvartirunagiri in the Tinnevelly district. The worshipper puts on his head the silk cloth, and round his neck the silk necklaces, and, if available, a necklace of Nelumbium (sacred lotus) seeds. After saluting the abhayastha by pressing it to his eyes, he repeats the prayer of his Ācharya, and proceeds to the Dēvatarchana, which consists in the performance of the sixteen upachāras already described. The sālagrāma stone is bathed, and the Purusha Sūktha repeated.

The daily observances are brought to a close by the performance of the Vaisvadēva ceremony, or offering to Vaisvadēvas (all the gods). This consists in offering cooked rice, etc., to all the gods. Some regard this as a sort of expiatory ceremony, to wipe out the sin which may have accidentally been committed by killing small animals in the process of cooking food.

The male members of a family take their meals apart from the females. The food is served on platters made of the leaves of the banyan (Ficus bengalensis), Butea frondosa, Bauhinia, or plantain. Amongst Smarthas and Mādhvas, various vegetable preparations are served first, and rice last, whereas, amongst the Sri Vaishnavas, especially Vadagalais, rice is served first. Before commencing to eat, a little water (tīrtham), in [323]which a sālagrāma stone has been bathed, is poured into the palms of those who are about to partake of the meal. They drink the water simultaneously, saying “Amartopastaranamasi.” They then put a few handfuls of rice into their mouths, repeating some mantras—“Pranāyasvāha, Udanayasvāha, Somanayasvāha,” etc. At the end of the meal, all are served with a little water, which they sip, saying “Amartapithānamasi.” They then rise together.

In connection with the sālagrāma stone, which has been referred to several times, the following interesting account thereof97 may be quoted:—“Sālagrāms are fossil cephalopods (ammonites), and are found chiefly in the bed of the Gandak river, a mountain torrent which, rising in the lofty mountains of Nepal, flows into the Ganges at Sālagrāmi, a village from which they take their name, and which is not far from the sacred city of Benares. In appearance they are small black shiny pebbles of various shapes, usually round or oval, with a peculiar natural hole in them. They have certain marks to be described later, and are often flecked and inlaid with gold [or pyrites]. The name sālagrām is of Sanskrit derivation, from sara chakra, the weapon of Vishnu, and grava, a stone; the chakra or chakram being represented on the stone by queer spiral lines, popularly believed to be engraved thereon at the request of Vishnu by the creator Brahma, who, in the form of a worm, bores the holes known as vadanas, and traces the spiral coil that gives the stone its name. There is a curious legend connected with their origin. In ancient times there lived a certain dancing-girl, the most beautiful that had ever been created, so beautiful indeed that [324]it was impossible to find a suitable consort for her. The girl, in despair at her loveliness, hid herself in the mountains, in the far away Himalayas, and there spent several years in prayer, till at last Vishnu appeared before her, and asked what she wanted. She begged him to tell her how it was that the great creator Brahma, who had made her so beautiful, had not created a male consort for her of similar perfect form. Then she looked on Vishnu, and asked the god to kiss her. Vishnu could not comply with her request as she was a dancing-girl, and of low caste, but promised by his virtue that she should be reincarnated in the Himalayas in the form of a river, which should bear the name Gandaki, and that he would be in the river as her eternal consort in the shape of a sālagrām. Thereupon the river Gandaki rose from the Himalayas, and sālagrāms were found in it. How the true virtue of the sālagrām was discovered is another strange little fable. A poor boy of the Kshatriya or warrior class once found one when playing by the river side. He soon discovered that when he had it in his hand, or secreted in his mouth, or about his person, his luck was so extraordinary at marbles or whatever game he played, that he always won. At last he so excelled in all he undertook that he rose to be a great king. Finally Vishnu himself came to fetch him, and bore him away in a cloud. The mystic river Gandaki is within the jurisdiction of the Mahārāja of Nepal, and is zealously guarded on both banks, while the four special places where the sacred stones are mostly picked up are leased out under certain conditions, the most important being that all true sālagrāms found are to be submitted to the Mahārāja. These are then tested, the selected ones retained, and the others returned to the lessee. The first test of the sālagrāms to prove [325]if they are genuine is very simple, but later they are put through other ordeals to try their supernatural powers. Each stone, as it is discovered, is struck on all sides with a small hammer, or, in some cases, is merely knocked with the finger. This causes the soft powdery part, produced by the boring of the worm, to fall in and disclose the vadana or hole, which may, in the more valuable sālagrāms, contain gold or a precious gem. In addition to the real stone with chakram and vadana formed by natural causes, there are found in many mountain streams round black pebbles resembling the true sālagrām in colour, shape, and size, but lacking the chakram and vadana. These are collected by Bairāgis, or holy mendicants, who bore imitation vadanas in them, and, tracing false chakrams in balapa or slate stone, paste them on the pebbles. So skilfully is this fraud perpetrated that it is only after years of use and perpetual washing at the daily pūja that in time the tracery wears away, and detection becomes possible. There are over eighteen known and different kinds of true sālagrāms, the initial value of which varies according to the shape and markings of the stone. The price of any one sālagrām may be so enhanced after the further tests have been applied, that even a lakh of rupees (Rs. 1,00,000) will fail to purchase it; and, should experience prove the stone a lucky one, nothing will, as a rule, induce the fortunate owner to part with it. The three shapes of sālagrāms most highly prized are known as the Vishnu sālagrām, the Lakshmi Narasimha sālagrām, and the Mutchya Murti sālagrām. The first has a chakram on it the shape of a garland, and bears marks known as the shenka (conch) gada padma, or the weapons of Vishnu, and is peculiar to that god. The second has two chakrams on the left of the vadana, and [326]has dots or specks all over it. This stone, if properly worshipped, is believed to ensure to its owner prosperity and eternal life. The third, the Mutchya Murti, is a long-shaped flat stone with a vadana that gives it a resemblance to the face of a fish. It bears two chakrams, one inside and one outside the vadana, and also has specks and dots on it in the shape of a shoe. There are four or five varieties of this species, and it also, if duly worshipped, will infallibly enrich its possessor. One sālagrām there is which has no vadana, and is known as the ugra chakra sālagrām. It is quite round with two chakrams, but it is not a particularly safe one to possess, and is described as a ‘furious sālagrāma,’ for, if not worshipped with sufficient ardour, it will resent the neglect, and ruin the owner. The first thing to do on obtaining a sālagrām is to find out whether or not it is a lucky stone, for a stone that will bring luck to one owner may mean ruin for another. The tests are various; a favourite one is to place the sālagrām with its exact weight of rice together in one place for the night. If the rice has increased in the morning (and, in some cases, my informant assures me, it will be found to have doubled in quantity), then the stone is one to be regarded by its lucky holder as priceless, and on no account to be parted with. If, on the other hand, the rice measures the same, or—dreadful omen—has even become less, then let the house be rid of it as early as possible. If no purchaser can be found, make a virtue of necessity, and send it as a present to the nearest temple or mutt (religious institution), where the Gurus know how to appease the wrath of the Deity with daily offerings of fruits and flowers. A sālagrām will never bring any luck if its possession is acquired by fraud or force. The story runs that once a Brāhman, finding [327]one with a Mahomedan butcher, obtained it by theft. The luckless man speedily rued the day of his time, for, from that time onwards, nothing prospered, and he ended his days a destitute pauper. Again, possession of them without worship is believed by all Hindus to be most unlucky, and, as none but Brāhmans can perform the worship, none but Brāhmans will retain the stones in their keeping. For an orthodox Brāhman household, the ownership of three or more stones is an absolute necessity. These must be duly worshipped and washed with water, and the water drunk as tīrtha, and sacrifice of boiled rice and other food must be daily performed. When this is done, speedy success in all the business of life will fall to the lot of the inmates of the house, but otherwise ruin and disgrace await them.”

In some temples, the Mūla Vigraha, or idol fixed in the inner sanctuary, is decorated with a necklace of sālagrāma stones. For example, at Tirupati the god is thus decorated.

The following incident in connection with a sālagrāma stone is narrated by Yule and Burnell98:—“In May, 1883, a sālagrāma was the ostensible cause of great popular excitement among the Hindus of Calcutta. During the proceedings in a family suit before the High Court, a question arose regarding the identity of a sālagrāma, regarded as a household god. Counsel on both sides suggested that the thing should be brought into court. Mr. Justice Morris hesitated to give this order till he had taken advice. The attorneys on both sides, Hindus, said there could be no objection; the Court interpreter, a high-caste Brāhman, said it could not be brought into Court because of the coir matting, [328]but it might with perfect propriety be brought into the corridor for inspection; which was done. This took place during the excitement about the ‘Ilbert Bill,’ giving natives magisterial authority in the provinces over Europeans; and there followed most violent and offensive articles in several native newspapers reviling Mr. Justice Morris, who was believed to be hostile to the Bill. The Editor of the Bengallee newspaper, an educated man, and formerly a member of the Covenanted Civil Service, the author of one of the most unscrupulous and violent articles, was summoned for contempt of court. He made an apology and complete retraction, but was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment.”

The sacred chank, conch, or sankhu, which has been referred to in connection with ceremonial observance, is the shell of the gastropod mollusc Turbinella rapa. This is secured, in Southern India, by divers from Tuticorin in the vicinity of the pearl banks. The chank shell, which one sees suspended on the forehead and round the neck of bullocks, is not only used by Hindus for offering libations, and as a musical instrument in temples, but is also cut into armlets, bracelets, and other ornaments. Writing in the sixteenth century, Garcia says:—“This chanco is a ware for the Bengal trade, and formerly produced more profit than now ... and there was formerly a custom in Bengal that no virgin in honour and esteem could be corrupted unless it were by placing bracelets of chanco on her arms; but, since the Patāns came in, this usage has more or less ceased.” “The conch shell,” Captain C. R. Day writes,99 “is not in secular use as a musical instrument, but is found in every temple, and is sounded during [329]religious ceremonials, in processions, and before the shrines of Hindu deities. In Southern India, the sankhu is employed in the ministration of a class of temple servers called Dāsari. No tune, so to speak, can of course be played upon it, but still the tone is capable of much modulation by the lips, and its clear mellow notes are not without a certain charm. A rather striking effect is produced when it is used in the temple ritual as a sort of rhythmical accompaniment, when it plays the part of kannagōlu or tālavinyāsa.” In a petition from two natives of the city of Madras in 1734, in connection with the expenses for erecting a town called Chintadrepettah, the following occurs100:—“Expended towards digging a foundation, where chanks was buried with accustomary ceremonies.” A right-handed chank (i.e., one which has its spiral opening to the right), which was found off the coast of Ceylon at Jaffna in 1887, was sold for Rs. 700. Such a chank is said to have been sometimes priced at a lakh of rupees; and, writing in 1813, Milburn says100 that a chank opening to the right hand is greatly valued, and always sells for its weight in gold. Further, Baldæus narrates the legend that Garroude flew in all haste to Brahma, and brought to Kistna the chianko or kinkhorn twisted to the right. The chank appears as a symbol on coins of the Chālukyan and Pāndyan dynasties of Southern India, and on the modern coins of the Mahārājas of Travancore.

Temple worship is entirely based on Āgamas. As Brāhmans take part only in the worship of Siva and Vishnu, temples dedicated to these gods are largely frequented by them. The duties connected with the actual worship of the idol are carried out by Gurukkals [330]in Siva temples, and by Pāncharatra or Vaikhānasa Archakas in Vishnu temples. The cooking of the food for the daily offering is done by Brāhmans called Parchārakas. At the time of worship, some Brāhmans, called Adhyāpakas, recite the Vēdas. Some stanzas from Thiruvāimozhi or Thēvāram are also repeated, the former by Brāhmans at Vishnu temples, and the latter by Pandārams (Ōduvar) at Siva temples. In a typical temple there are usually two idols, one of stone (mūla vigraha) and the other of metal (utsava vigraha). The mūla vigraha is permanently fixed within the inner shrine or garbagraha, and the utsava vigraha is intended to be carried in procession. The mūla vigrahas of Vishnu temples are generally in human form, either in a standing posture, or, as in the case of Ranganātha, Padmanābha, and Govindarājaswāmi, in a reclining posture, on Ādisēsha. Ordinarily, three idols constitute the mūla vigraha. These are Vishnu, Sridēvi (Lakshmi), and Bhudēvi (earth goddess). In temples dedicated to Sri Rāma, Lakshmana is found instead of Bhudēvi. Sridēvi and Bhudēvi are also associated with Vishnu in the utsava vigraha. In all the larger temples, there is a separate building in the temple precincts dedicated to Lakshmi, and within the garbagraha thereof, called thāyar or nāchiyar sannadhi, is a mūla vigraha of Lakshmi. There may also be one or more shrines dedicated to the Ālvars (Vaishnava saints) and the Āchāryas—Dēsikar and Manavāla Mahāmunigal. The sect mark is put on the faces of the mūla and utsava vigrahas. The mūla vigraha in Siva temples is a lingam (phallic emblem). In Siva temples, there is within the garbagraha only one lamp burning, which emits a very feeble light. Hence arise the common sayings “As dim as the light burning in Siva’s temple,” or “Like the lamp [331]in Siva’s temple.” The utsava vigraha is in the human forms of Siva and Parvathi. In all important Saivite temples, Parvathi is housed in a separate building, as Lakshmi is in Vishnu temples. Vignēswara, Subramanya, and the important Nāyanmars also have separate shrines in the temple precincts.

So far as ordinary daily worship is concerned, there is not much difference in the mode of worship between temple and domestic worship. Every item is done on a large scale, and certain special Āgamic or Tantric rites are added to the sixteen Upachāras already mentioned. At the present time, there are, especially in the case of Vishnu temples, two forms of temple worship, called Pāncharatra and Vaikhānasa. In the former, which is like domestic worship in all essential points, any Brāhman may officiate as temple priest. In the latter, only Vaikhānasa Archakas may officiate.

All big temples are generally well endowed, and some temples receive from Government annual grants of money, called tasdik. The management of the temple affairs rests with the Dharmakarthas (trustees), who practically have absolute control over the temple funds. All the temple servants, such as Archakas, Parchārakas, and Adhyāpakas, and the non-Brāhman servants (sweepers, flower-gatherers, musicians and dancing-girls) are subject to the authority of the Dharmakartha. For their services in the temple, these people are paid partly in money, and partly in kind. The cooked food, which is offered daily to the god, is distributed among the temple servants. On ordinary days, the offerings of cooked food made by the Archakas, and the fruits brought by those who come to worship, are offered only to the mūla vigraha, whereas, on festival days, they are offered to the utsava vigrahas. [332]

For worship in Vishnu temples, flowers and tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) are used. In Siva temples, bilva (bael: Ægle Marmelos) leaves are substituted for tulsi. At the close of the worship, the Archaka gives to those present thīrtham (holy water), tulsi or bilva leaves, and vibhūthi (sacred ashes) according to the nature of the temple. At Vishnu temples, immediately after the giving of thīrtham, an inverted bowl, bearing on it the feet of Vishnu (satāri or sadagōpam), is placed by the Archaka first on the head, and then on the right shoulder, and again on the head, in the case of grown up and married males, and only on the head in the case of females and young people. The bowl is always kept near the mūla vigraha, and, on festival days, when the god is taken in procession through the streets, it is carried along with the utsava vigraha. On festival days, such as Dhipāvali, Vaikunta Ekādasi, Dwādasi, etc., the god of the temple is taken in procession through the main streets of the town or village. The idol, thus borne in procession, is not the stone figure, but the portable one made of metal (utsava vigraha), which is usually kept in the temple in front of the Mūla idol. At almost every important temple, an annual festival called Brahmōtsavam, which usually lasts ten days, is celebrated. Every night during this festival, the god is seated on the clay, wooden or metal figure of some animal as a vehicle, e.g., Garuda, horse, elephant, bull, Hanumān, peacock, yāli, etc., and taken in procession, accompanied by a crowd of Brāhmans chanting the Vēdas and Tamil Nālayara Prapandhams, if the temple is an important one. Of the vehicles or vahānams, Hanumān and Garuda are special to Vishnu, and the bull (Nandi) and tiger to Siva. The others are common to both deities. During the month of May, the festival [333]of the god Varadarāja takes place annually. On one of the ten days of this festival, the idol, which has gone through a regular marriage ceremony, is placed on an elaborately decorated car (ratha), and dragged through the main streets. The car frequently bears a number of carved images of a very obscene nature, the object of which, it is said, is to avert the evil eye. Various castes, besides Brāhmans, take part in temple worship, at which the saints of both Siva and Vishnu—Nāyanmar and Ālvars—are worshipped. The Brāhmans do not entirely ignore the worship of the lower deities, such as Māriamma, Munēswara, Kodamanitaya, etc. At Udipi in South Canara, the centre of the Mādhva cult, where Mādhva preached his Dvaitic philosophy, and where there are several mutts presided over by celibate priests, the Brāhmans often make a vow to the Bhūthas (devils) of the Paravas and Nalkes. Quite recently, we saw an orthodox Shivalli Brāhman, employed under the priest of one of the Udipi mutts, celebrating the nēma (festival) of a bhūtha named Panjurli, in fulfilment of a vow made when his son was ill. The Nalke devil-dancers were sent for, and the dance took place in the courtyard of the Brāhman’s house. During the leaf festival at Periyapalayam near Madras, Brāhman males and females may be seen wearing leafy twigs of margosa (Melia Azadirachta), and going round the Māriamma shrine.

I pass on to a detailed consideration of the various classes of Brāhmans met with in Southern India. Of these, the Tamil Brāhmans, or Drāvidas proper, are most numerous in the southern districts. They are divided into the following sections:—

  • I. Smartha.
    • (a) Vadama.
    • (b) Kēsigal.
    • (c) Brahacharnam.
    • (d) Vathima or Madhema. [334]
    • (e) Ashtasahasram.
    • (f) Dīkshitar.
    • (g) Shōliar.
    • (h) Mukkāni.
    • (i) Kāniyalar.
    • (j) Sankēthi.
    • (k) Prathamasāki.
    • (l) Gurukkal.
  • II. Vaishnava.
    • A. Vadagalai (northerners).
      • (a) Sri Vaishnava.
      • (b) Vaikhānasa.
      • (c) Pāncharatra.
      • (d) Hebbar.
    • B. Thengalai (southerners).

      • (a) Sri Vaishnava.
      • (b) Vaikhānasa.
      • (c) Pāncharatra.
      • (d) Hebbar.
      • (e) Mandya.

I. Smartha—(a) Vadama.—The Vadamas claim to be superior to the other classes, but will dine with all the sections, except Gurukkals and Prathamasākis, and, in some places, will even eat with Prathamasākis. The sub-divisions among the Vadamas are:—

  • 1. Chōladēsa (Chōla country).
  • 2. Vadadēsa (north country).
  • 3. Savayar or Sabhayar.
  • 4. Īnji.
  • 5. Thummagunta Drāvida.

All these are Smarthas, who use as their sect mark either the ūrdhvapundram (straight mark made with sandal paste) or the circular mark, and rarely the cross lines. They worship both Siva and Vishnu, and generally read Purānas about Vishnu. Some Vadamas use the Vaishnava nāmam as their sect mark, and are called Kiththunāmakkārar. They follow the Smartha customs in every way. There is a common saying “Vadamam muththi Vaishnavam,” i.e., a Vadama ripens into a Vaishnava. This is literally true. Some Vadama families, who put on the ūrdhvapundram mark, and follow the Smartha customs, observe pollution whenever a death occurs in certain Sri Vaishnava families. This [335]is because the Sri Vaishnavas are Vadamas recently converted into Vaishnava families.

(b) Kēsigal.—The Kēsigals, or Hiranyakēsikal (men of the silvery hair), as they are sometimes called, closely resemble the Vadamas, but are an exclusive endogamous unit, and highly conservative and orthodox. They are called Hiranyakēsikal or Hiranyakēsis because they follow the Grihya Sūtras of Hiranyakēsi. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that they “are peculiar in all having one common Sūtram called the Sathyāshāda after a common ancestor.”

(c) Brahacharnam (the great sect).—The Brahacharnams are more Saivite, and more orthodox than the Vadamas. They put on vibhūti (sacred ashes) and sandal paste horizontal lines as their sect mark. The sub division Sathyamangalam Brahacharnam seems, however, to be an exception, as some members thereof put on the Vaishnavite sect mark at all times, or at least during the month of Purattāsi, which is considered sacred to the god Venkataramana of Tirupati. The more orthodox Brahacharnams wear a single rudrāksha bead, or a necklace of beads, and some make lingams out of these beads, which they put on the head during worship. They generally worship five gods, viz., Siva in the form of a lingam, spatika (crystal) lingam, Vishnu, Ganēsa, and Iswara. It is said that Brahacharnam women can be distinguished by the mode of tying the cloth, which is not worn so as to reach to the feet, but reaches only to just below the knees. The Brahacharnams are sub-divided into the following sections:—

  • 1. Kandramanicka.
  • 2. Milaganur.
  • 3. Māngudī.
  • 4. Palavanēri or Pazhamanēri.
  • 5. Musanādu.
  • 6. Kolaththur.
  • 7. Maruthanchēri.
  • 8. Sathyamangalam.
  • 9. Puthur Drāvida.


It is recorded, in the Gazetteer of the Tanjore district, that “one ceremony peculiar to the Milaganur Brahacharnams is that, before the principal marriage ceremonies of the first day, a feast is given to four married women, a widow, and a bachelor. This is called the adrisya pendugal (invisible women) ceremony. It is intended to propitiate four wives belonging to this sub-division, who are said to have been cruelly treated by their mother-in-law, and cursed the class. They are represented to have feasted a widow, and to have then disappeared.”

(d) Vathima.—The Vathimas, or Madhimas, are most numerous in the Tanjore district, and are thus described in the Gazetteer:—“The Vattimas are grouped into three smaller sub-sections, of which one is called ‘the eighteen village Vattimas,’ from the fact that they profess (apparently with truth) to have lived till recently in only eighteen villages, all of them in this district. They have a marked character of their own, which may be briefly described. They are generally money-lenders, and consequently are unpopular with their neighbours, who are often blind to their virtues and unkind to their failings. [There is a proverb that the Vadamas are always economical, and the Vathimas always unite together.] It is a common reproach against them that they are severe to those who are in their debt, and parsimonious in their household expenditure. To this latter characteristic is attributed their general abstinence from dholl (the usual accompaniment of a Brāhman meal), and their preference for a cold supper instead of a hot meal. The women work as hard as the men, making mats, selling buttermilk, and lending money on their own account, and are declared to be as keen in money-making and usury as their brothers. They, however, possess many amiable traits. They are well known for a [337]generous hospitality on all great occasions, and no poor guest or Brāhman mendicant has ever had reason to complain in their houses that he is being served worse than his richer or more influential fellows. Indeed, if anything, he fares the better for his poverty. Again, they are unusually lavish in their entertainments at marriages; but their marriage feasts have the peculiarity that, whatever the total amount expended, a fixed proportion is always paid for the various items—so much per cent. for the pandal, so much per cent. for food, and so on. Indeed it is asserted that a beggar who sees the size of the marriage pandal will be able to guess to a nicety the size of the present he will get. Nor, again, at their marriages, do they haggle about the marriage settlement, since they have a scale, more or less fixed and generally recognised, which determines these matters. There is less keen competition for husbands among them, since their young men marry at an earlier age more invariably than among the other sub-divisions. The Vattimas are clannish. If a man fails to pay his dues to one of them, the word is passed round, and no other man of the sub-division will ever lend his money. They sometimes unite to light their villages by private subscription, and to see to its sanitation, and, in a number of ways, they exhibit a corporate unity. Till quite recently they were little touched by English education; but a notable exception to this general statement existed in the late Sir A. Seshayya Sāstri, who was of Vattima extraction.”

The sub-divisions of the Vattimas are:—

  • 1. Pathinettu Grāmaththu (eighteen villages).
  • 2. Udayalur.
  • 3. Nannilam.
  • 4. Rāthāmangalam. According to some, this is not a separate section, but comes under the eighteen village section.


(e) Ashtasahasram (eight thousand).—This class is considered to be inferior to the Brahacharnams and Vadamas. The members thereof are, like the Brahacharnams, more Saivite than the Vadamas. The females are said to wear their cloth very elegantly, and with the lower border reaching so low as to cover the ankles. The sub-divisions of the Ashtasahasrams are:—

  • 1. Aththiyur.
  • 2. Arivarpade.
  • 3. Nandivādi.
  • 4. Shatkulam (six families).

As their numbers are few, though the sub-divisions are endogamous, intermarriage is not entirely prohibited.

(f) Dīkshitar.—Another name for this section is Thillai Mūvāyiravar, i.e., the three thousand of Thillai (now Chidambaram). There is a tradition that three thousand people started from Benares, and, when they reached Chidambaram, they were one short. This confused them, but they were pacified when Siva explained that he was the missing individual. The Dīkshitars form a limited community of only several hundred families. The men, like Nāyars and Nambūtiri Brāhmans of the west coast, wear the hair tuft on the front of the head. They do not give their girls in marriage to other sections of Brāhmans, and they do not allow their women to leave Chidambaram. Hence arises the proverb “A Thillai girl never crosses the boundary line.” The Dīkshitars are priests of the temple of Natarāja at Chidambaram, whereat they serve by turns. Males marry very early in life, and it is very difficult to secure a girl for marriage above the age of five. The tendency to marry when very young is due to the fact that only married persons have a voice in the management of [339]the affairs of the temple, and an individual must be married before he can get a share of the temple income. The chief sources of income are the pāvādam and kattalai (heaps of cooked rice piled up or spread on a board), which are offered to the god. Every Dīkshitar will do his best to secure clients, of whom the best are Nāttukōttai Chettis. The clients are housed and looked after by the Dīkshitars. Concerning the Dīkshitars, Mr. W. Francis writes as follows101:—“An interesting feature about the Chidambaram temple is its system of management. It has no landed or other endowments, nor any tasdik allowance, and is the property of a class of Brahmans peculiar to the town, who are held in far more respect than the generality of the temple-priest Brahmans, are called Dīkshitars (those who make oblations), marry only among themselves, and in appearance somewhat resemble the Nāyars or Tiyans of Malabar, bringing their topknot round to the front of their foreheads. Their ritual in the temple more resembles that of a domestic worship than the forms commonly followed in other large shrines. Theoretically, all the married males of the Dīkshitars have a voice in the management of the temple, and a share in its perquisites; and at present there are some 250 of such shares. They go round the southern districts soliciting alms and offerings for themselves. Each one has his own particular clientèle, and, in return for the alms received, he makes, on his return, offerings at the shrine in the name of his benefactors, and sends them now and again some holy ashes, or an invitation to a festival. Twenty of the Dīkshitars are always on duty in the [340]temple, all the males of the community (except boys and widowers) doing the work by turns lasting twenty days each, until each one has been the round of all the different shrines. The twenty divide themselves into five parties of four each, each of which is on duty for four days at one of the five shrines at which daily pūja is made, sleeps there at night, and becomes the owner of the routine offerings of food made at it. Large presents of food made to the temple as a whole are divided among all the Dīkshitars. The right to the other oblations is sold by auction every twenty days to one of the Dīkshitars at a meeting of the community. These periodical meetings take place in the Dēva Sabha. A lamp from Natarāja’s shrine is brought, and placed there by a Pandāram, and (to avoid even the appearance of any deviation from the principle of the absolute equality of all Dīkshitars in the management of the temple) this man acts as president of the meeting, and proposals are made impersonally through him.” As a class the Dīkshitars are haughty, and refuse to acknowledge any of the Sankarachariars as their priests, because they are almost equal to the god Siva, who is one of them. If a Sankarachariar comes to the temple, he is not allowed to take sacred ashes direct from the cup, as is done at other temples to show respect to the Sanyāsi. The Dīkshitars are mostly Yejur Vēdis, though a few are followers of the Rig Vēda. When a girl attains puberty, she goes in procession, after the purificatory bath, to every Dīkshitar’s house, and receives presents.

(g) Shōliar.—The Shōliars are divided into the following sections:—

  • (1) Thirukattiur.
  • (2) Mādalur.
  • (3) Visalur.
  • (4) Puthalur.
  • (5) Senganur.
  • (6) Avadayar Kōvil.


Concerning the Shōliars, Mr. C. Ramachendrier writes as follows102:—“The Shōliars of Thiruvanakaval (in the Tanjore district) belong to the first sub-division, and they form a separate community, devoting their time to service in the temple. Those who make pūja to the idol are Pradhamasakis, and are called Archakas. Those who serve as cooks, and attend to other inferior services, are called Arya Nambi, and those who decorate the idols taken in procession on festive occasions are termed Therunabuttan. Archakas alone are entitled to decorate stone images in the chief shrines of the temple, and they are also called Pandits. According to custom, Shōlia Brahmans should wear front locks, but some of them have adopted the custom of other Brahmans, while the orthodox section of the community, and the Archakas of Thiruvanakaval, speak a very low Tamil with a peculiar intonation, and they do not send their children to English schools. Young boys are trained by their parents in the temple service, which entitles them, even when young, to some emoluments. There are amongst them none who have received either Sanskrit or Tamil education. The Archakas perform pūjas by turn, and, as the Archakaship is to be conferred at a certain age by anointment by a guru, infant marriage does not obtain among them to such an extent as among the Dīkshitars of Chidambaram. They eat with the other Smartha Brahmans, but do not intermarry. They count about 300 in number, including women and children. There is no intermarriage between them and the other Shōlia Brahmans. Those of Avadayarcovil are also engaged in the service of the temple of that name. Shōliars of [342]other classes are to be found in Vasishtakudy in the taluk of Vriddachallam, Vemmaniathur in the taluk of Villupuram, and Visalur in the taluk of Kumbaconam.” In an article on the Shōliars,103 it is recorded that “they are a very intelligent people, and at the same time very vindictive if disturbed. Chanakya, the Indian Machiavelli and the Minister of Chandragupta, is supposed to have belonged to this caste. His hatred of the Nanda family, and the way in which he uprooted each and every member of that race, has been depicted in the famous Sanskrit drama Mudrarakshasa, which belongs to the 7th century A.D. Whether on account of his character, and under the belief that he originated from this caste, or for some reason which is unaccountable, the Soliyas of modern days are held as very vindictive people, as the following proverb will show:—’We do not want to meet with a Soliya even in a picture.’” Another proverb is to the effect that “the kudumi (hair tuft) on the head of a Shōliar does not shake without sufficient reason,” i.e., it is a sign that he is bent upon doing some mischief.

(h) Mukkāni.—The Mukkānis are Smarthas confined to the Cochin and Travancore States.

(i) Kāniyālar.—Concerning the Kāniyālars, Mr. Ramachendrier writes as follows:—“Kaniālars form a separate class of Smartha Brahmins, and they live in the district of Tinnevelly and some parts of Trichinopoly. They do not intermarry with any other class of Smartha Brahmins, but eat with them. A large number of them, though Smarthas by birth, wear a mark on their forehead like Vyshnava Brahmins, and serve as cooks and menial servants in the big temple at Srirangam. Their [343]women adopt the Vyshnava women’s style of wearing cloths, and to all appearance they would pass for Vyshnava women. The Vyshnava Brahmins would not allow them to mess in their houses, though they treat rice and cakes prepared by them in temples and offered to god as pure and holy, and partake of them.”

(j) Sankēthi.—The Sankēthis are confined to the Mysore Province. They speak a very corrupt form of Tamil, mixed with Canarese. The following account of them is given in the Mysore Census Report, 1891. “They are found chiefly in the Mysore and Hassan districts. Their colonies are also found in Kadur and Shimoga. Their number seems to have been somewhat understated; many of them have probably returned themselves as Dravidas. So far as language is an indication of race, the Sanketis are Tamilians, although their dialect is more diluted with Kanarese than that of any other Kannada ridden Tamil body. Theirs seems to have been among the earliest immigrations into Mysore from the neighbouring Tamil country. It is said that some 700 years ago, about 1,000 families of Smartha Brahmans emigrated from the vicinity of Kanchi (Conjeeveram), induced doubtless by contemporary politics. They set out in two batches towards Mysore. They were attacked by robbers on the road, but the larger party of about 700 families persevered in the march notwithstanding, and settled near the village of Kausika near Hassan, whence they are distinguished as Kausika Sanketis. Some twelve years afterwards, the other party of 300 families found a resting place at Bettadapura in the Hunsur taluk. This branch has been called Bettadapura Sanketi. Their religious and social customs are the same. The Kausika Sanketis occasionally take wives from the Bettadapura section, but, when the married [344]girl joins her husband, her connection with her parents and relatives ceases altogether even in regard to meals. During the Coorg disturbances about the end of the last (eighteenth) century, many young women of the Sanketis were captured by the Kodagas (Coorgs), and some of the captives were subsequently recovered. Their descendants are to this day known as Sanketis of the West, or Hiriangalas. But they, and another sub-class called Patnagere Sanketis, do not in all exceed twenty families. The Sanketis are proverbially a hardy, intensely conservative and industrious Brahman community. They are referred to as models for simultaneously securing the twofold object of preserving the study of the Vēdas, while securing a worldly competence by cultivating their gardens; and, short of actually ploughing the land, they are pre-eminently the only fraction of the Brahman brotherhood who turn their hands to the best advantage.”

(k) Prathamasāki.—These follow the white Yajur Vēda, and are hence called Sukla Yejur Vēdis. The white Yajus forms the first fifteen sākas of the Yejur Vēda, and this is in consequence sometimes called Prathamasāka. The Prathamasākis are sometimes called Kātyayana (followers of Kātyayana Sūtram), Vājusaneya, and Madyandanas. The two last names occur among their Pravara and Gōtra Rishis. The Prathamasākis are found among all the linguistic sections. Among Smarthas, Āndhras, and Vaishnavas, they are regarded as inferior. Carnataka Prathamasākis are, on the other hand, not considered inferior by the other sections of Carnatakas. In the Tanjore district, the Prathamasākis are said to be known as Madyāna Paraiyans. The following quaint legend is recorded in the Gazetteer of that district:—“The god of the Tiruvalur [345]temple was entreated by a pūjāri of this place (Koiltirumūlam) to be present in the village at a sacrifice in his (the god’s) honour. The deity consented at length, but gave warning that he would come in a very unwelcome shape. He appeared as a Paraiyan (Pariah) with beef on his back, and followed by the four Vēdas in the form of dogs, and took his part in the sacrifice thus accoutred and attended. All the Brahmans who were present ran away, and the god was so incensed that he condemned them to be Paraiyans for one hour in the day, from noon till 1 P.M., ever afterwards. There is a class of Brahmans called mid-day Paraiyans, who are found in several districts, and a colony of whom reside at Sedanipuram five miles from Nannilam. It is believed throughout the Tanjore district that the mid-day Paraiyans are the descendants of the Brahmans thus cursed by the god. They are supposed to expiate their defilement by staying outside their houses for an hour and a half every day at mid-day, and to bathe afterwards; and, if they do this, they are much respected. Few of them, however, observe this rule, and orthodox persons will not eat with them, because of their omission to remove the defilement. They call themselves the Prathamasaka.” Several versions of stories accounting for their pollution are extant, and the following is a version given by Mr. Ramachendrier. “Yagnavalkiar, who was the chief disciple of Vysampayanar, having returned with his students from pilgrimage, represented to his priest that Yajur Vēda was unrivalled, and that he and his students alone were qualified for its propagation. Vysampayanar, feeling provoked by this assertion, which, he remarked, implied insult to Brahmans, proposed certain penance for the offence. Yagnavalkiar replied that he and his students had done many good deeds and [346]performed many religious rites, and that they were still to do such, and that the insult imputed to them was worthy of little notice. Vysampayanar required Yagnavalkiar to give back the Vedās which he had taught him, which he threw out at once. The matter thrown out having been like cinders, Vysampayanar’s disciples then present, assuming the shape of thithiri birds (fire-eating birds), swallowed them, and hence the Vēda is called Thithiriya Sāka and Ktishna Yajus. Soon after, Yagnavalkiar, without his priest’s knowledge, went to the Sun, and, offering prayers, entreated him to teach him Vēdas. The Sun, thereupon taking the shape of a horse, taught him the Yajur Vēda, which now forms the first fifteen sākas, and he in turn taught it to his disciples Kanvar, Madhyandanar, Katyayanar, and Vajasaneyar. It is to be gathered from Varāha Purānam that Vysampayanar pronounced a curse that the Rig Vēda taught by the Sun should be considered degraded, and that the Brahmans reading it should become Chandālas (outcastes).” Another version of the legend runs as follows. Vaisampayanar used to visit the king almost every day, and bless him by giving akshatha or sacred rice. One day, as Vaisampayanar could not go, he gave the rice grains to his disciple Yagnavalkiar, and told him to take them to the king. Accordingly, Yagnavalkiar went to the king’s palace, and found the throne empty. Being impatient by nature, he left the rice grains on the throne, and returned to his priest. The king, when he returned home, found his throne changed into gold, and certain plants were growing round his seat. On enquiry, he discovered that this marvellous effect was due to the sacred akshatha. He sent word to Vaisampayanar to send the rice grains by his disciple who had brought them. Yagnavalkiar refused, and was told to vomit [347]the Vēdas. Readily he vomited, and, going to the Sun, learnt the Vēda from him. As the Sun is always in motion sitting in his car, the Vēdas could not be learnt without mistakes and peculiar sounds. When he came to his Guru Vaisampayanar, Yagnavalkiar was cursed to become a Chandāla. The curse was subsequently modified, as the Sun interceded on behalf of Yagnavalkiar.

(l) Gurukkal.—The Gurukkals are all followers of the Bodhayana Sūtras. They are temple priests, and other Brāhmans regard them as inferior, and will not eat with them. Even in temples, the Gurukkals sprinkle water over the food when it is offered to the god, but do not touch the food. They may not live in the same quarters with other Brāhmans. No agrahāram (Brāhman quarter) will ever contain a Gurukkal’s house. There should, strictly speaking, be at least a lane separating the houses of the Gurukkals from those of other Brāhmans. This is, however, not rigidly observed at the present day. For example, at Shiyali, Gurukkals and other Brāhmans live in the same street. There are among the Gurukkals the following sub-divisions:—

  • 1. Tiruvālangad.
  • 2. Conjeeveram.
  • 3. Tirukkazhukunram.

The Tiruvālangad Gurukkals mark their bodies with vibhūti (sacred ashes) in sixteen places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, navel, knees, two sides of the abdomen, back and hands (three places on each hand). The other two sub-divisions mark themselves in eight places, viz., head, face, neck, chest, knees and hands. Gurukkals who wish to become priests have to go through several stages of initiation called Dīkshai (see Pandāram). Gurukkals are Saivites to a greater extent than the [348]Smarthas, and do not regard themselves as disciples of Sankaracharya. Those who are orthodox, and are temple priests, should not see the corpses of Pandārams and other non-Brāhman castes. The sight of such a corpse is supposed to heap sin on them, and pollute them, so that they are unfit for temple worship.

II. Vaishnava.—The Vaishnavas, or Sri Vaishnavas, as they are sometimes called to distinguish them from the Mādhvas, who are also called Vaishnavas, are all converts from Smarthas, though they profess to constitute a distinct section. Some are converts from Telugu Smarthas, and are called Āndhra Vaishnavas. These do not mix with other Tamil-speaking Vaishnavas, and retain some of the Telugu customs. There are two distinct groups of Sri Vaishnavas—the Vadagalais (northerners) and Thengalais (southerners), who are easily distinguished by the marks on their foreheads. The Vadagalais put on a U-shaped mark, and the Thengalais a Y-shaped mark. The white mark is made with a kind of kaolin called tiruman, and turmeric rendered red by means of alkali is used for the central streak. The turmeric, as applied by the more orthodox, is of a yellow instead of red colour. Orthodox Sri Vaishnavas are very exclusive, and hold that they co-existed as a separate caste of Brāhmans with the Smarthas. But it was only after Rāmānuja’s teaching that the Vaishnavas seceded from the Smarthas, and the ranks were swollen by frequent additions from amongst the Vadamas. There are some families of Vaishnavas which observe pollution when there is a death in certain Smartha families, which belong to the same gōtra. Vaishnavas of some places, e.g., Valavanur, Savalai, and Perangiyur, in the South Arcot district, are considered low by the orthodox sections of Vaishnavas, because they are recent converts to [349]Vaishnavism. A good example of Smarthas becoming Vaishnavas is afforded by the Thummagunta Drāvidas, some of whom have become Vaishnavas, but still take girls in marriage from Smartha families, but do not give their daughters in marriage to Smarthas. All Vaishnavas are expected to undergo a ceremony of initiation into Vaishnavism after the Upanayanam ceremony. At the time of initiation, they are branded with the marks of the chakram and sankha (chank) on the right and left shoulders respectively. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras regard the branding as unnecessary. The ceremony of initiation (samāsrayanam) is usually performed by the head of a mutt. Sometimes, however, it is carried out by an elderly member of the family of the candidate. Such families go by the name of Swayam Ācharya Purushas (those who have their own men as Ācharyas).

For Vadagalais there are two mutts. Of these, the Ahobila mutt was formerly at Tiruvallur, but its head-quarters has been transferred to Narasimhapūram near Kumbakonam. The Parakālaswāmi mutt is in the Mysore Province. For Thengalais there are three mutts, at Vanamamalai and Sriperumbudur in Chingleput, and Tirukoilur in South Arcot. These are called respectively the Tothādri, Ethirājajhir, and Emberumānar mutts. There are various points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais, which sometimes lead to bitter quarrels in connection with temple worship. During the procession of the god at temple festivals, both Vadagalais and Thengalais go before and after the god, repeating Sanskrit Vēdas and Tamil Prapandhams respectively. Before commencing these, certain slōkas are recited, in one of which the Vadagalais use the expression Rāmānuja dayā pātram, and the Thengalais [350]the expression Srisailēsa dayā pātram, and a quarrel ensues in consequence. The main differences between the two sections are summarised as follows in the Mysore Census Report, 1891:—“The tenets which form the bone of contention between the Tengalēs and Vadagalēs are stated to number 18, and seem to cluster round a few cardinal items of controversy:—

1. Whether Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, is (Vibhu) co-omnipresent and co-illimitable with Vishnu;

2. Whether Lakshmi is only the mediatrix for, or the co-bestower of mōksham or final beatitude;

3. Whether there is any graduated mōksham attainable by the good and blessed, according to their multifarious merits;

4. Whether prapatti, or unconditional surrender of the soul to god, should be performed once for all, or after every act of spiritual rebellion;

5. Whether it (prapatti) is open to all, or is prescribed only for those specially prepared and apprenticed;

6. Whether the indivisibly atomic human soul is entered into, and permeated or not by the omnipresent creator;

7. Whether god’s mercy is exerted with or without cause;

8. Whether the same (the divine mercy) means the overlooking (dhōsha darsanam) or enjoyment (dhōsha bogyatvam) of the soul’s delinquencies;

9. Whether works (karma) and knowledge (jnāna) are in themselves salvation giving, or only lead to faith (bhakthi) by which final emancipation is attained;

10. Whether the good of other (unregenerate) castes should be tolerated according to their graduated social statuses, or should be venerated without reference to caste inequalities; [351]

11. Whether karma (works, rituals, etc.) should or not be bodily and wholly abandoned by those who have adopted prapatti.”

The points of difference between Vadagalais and Thengalais are thus described by Mr. V. N. Narasimmiyengar104:—“The Tengalē schismatists deny to Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, any participation in creation, and reduce her to the position of a creature; omit to ring the bell when worshipping their idols; salute each other and their gods only once; make use of highly abstruse Tamil verses in room of Sanskrit mantras and prayers; modify the srāddha ceremony materially, and do not shave their widows. The principal texts cited by the Tengalē Sri Vaishnavas in support of the immunity of their widows from the rite of tonsure are the following:—

Widows should avoid, even when in affliction and danger, shaving, eating of sweets, betel nut, flowers, sexual intercourse, conversation with men, and jewels (Sāndilyah).

A woman, whether unmarried or widowed, who shaves her hair, will go to the hell called Rauravam. When the husband dies, the widow should perform his due obsequies without shaving. She should never shave on any occasion, or for any purpose whatever (Sambhuh).

If any woman, whether unmarried or widowed, shave (her head), she will dwell in the hell called Rauravam for one thousand karors of kalpās. If a widow shave (her head) by ignorance, she will cause hair to grow in the mouths of her ancestors’ ghosts on both sides. If she perform any ceremonies inculcated by the Srutis and Smritis with her head shaved, she will be born a Chandālī (Manuh). [352]

There is no sin in a devout widow, whose object is eternal salvation, wearing her hair. If she should shave, she will assuredly go to hell. A Vaishnava widow should never shave her head. If she do so through ignorance, her face should not be looked at (Vridd’ha Manuh in Khagēsvara Samhitā).

If any one observe a Brahmachāri beggar with his kachchē (cloth passed between the legs, and tucked in behind), a householder without it, and a widow without hair on her head, he should at once plunge into water with his clothes (Ananta Samhitā).

It is considered highly meritorious for Vaishnava widows to wear their hair, as long as they remain in this world (Hayagrīva Samhitā).”

In a note on the two sects of the Vaishnavas in the Madras Presidency, the Rev. C. E. Kennet writes as follows105:—“While both the sects acknowledge the Sanskrit books to be authoritative, the Vadagalai uses them to a greater extent than the Thengalai. The former also recognises and acknowledges the female energy as well as the male, though not in the gross and sensual form in which it is worshipped among the Saivas, but as being the feminine aspect of deity, and representing the grace and merciful care of Providence; while the Tenkalai excludes its agency in general, and, inconsistently enough, allows it co-operation in the final salvation of a human soul. But the most curious difference between the two schools is that relating to human salvation itself, and is a reproduction in Indian minds of the European controversy between Calvinists and Arminians. For the adherents of the Vadakalais strongly insist on the concomitancy of the human will [353]for securing salvation, whereas those of the Tenkalai maintain the irresistability of divine grace in human salvation. The arguments from analogy used by the two parties respectively are, however, peculiarly Indian in character. The former adopt what is called the monkey argument, the Markata Nyāya, for the young monkey holds on to or grasps its mother to be conveyed to safety, and represents the hold of the soul on God. The latter use the cat argument, the Mārjāla Nyāya, which is expressive of the hold of God on the soul; for the kitten is helpless until the mother-cat seizes it nolens volens, and secures it from danger. The late Major M. W. Carr inserts in his large collection of Telugu and Sanskrit proverbs the following:—

“The monkey and its cub. As the cub clings to its mother, so man seeks divine aid, and clings to his God. The doctrine of the Vadakalais.

“Like the cat and her kitten. The stronger carrying and protecting the weaker; used to illustrate the free grace of God. The doctrine of the Tenkalais.

“Leaving the speculative differences between these two sects, I have now to mention the practical one which divides them, and which has been, and continues to be, the principal cause of the fierce contentions and long-drawn law suits between them. And this relates to the exact mode of making the sectarian mark on the forehead. While both sects wear a representation of Vishnu’s trident, composed of red or yellow for the middle line or prong of the trident, and of white earth for those on each side, the followers of the Vadakalai draw the middle line only down to the bridge of the nose, but those of the Tenkalai draw it over the bridge a little way down the nose itself. Each party maintain that their mode of making the mark is the right one, [354]and the only means of effecting a settlement of the dispute is to ascertain how the idol itself is marked, whether as favouring the Vadakalai or Tenkalai. But this has been found hitherto impossible, I am told, for instance at Conjeveram itself, the head-quarters of these disputes, owing to the unreliable and contradictory character of the evidence produced in the Courts.”

The Hebbar and Mandya sections belong to the Mysore Province, in which the former are very numerous. The latter are few in number, and confined to Mandya and Melkōte. Some families have settled in the city of Madras, where they are employed as merchants, bank clerks, attorneys, etc.

The Mandyas say that they migrated to Mysore from some place near Tirupati. Though both the Hebbar and Mandya Brāhmans speak Tamil, some details peculiar to Carnatakas are included in the marriage ceremonial.

The Vaishnava Shōliars are considered somewhat low in the social scale. Intermarriage takes place between Smartha and Vaishnavite Shōliars. The Vaikhānasas and Pāncharatras are temple priests (archakas). Both use as their title Dīkshitar. Sometimes they are called Nambi, but this term is more used to denote Sātāni temple servants.

Reference may here be made to the Pattar Brāhmans, who are Tamil Brāhmans, who have settled in Malabar. The name is said to be derived from the Sanskrit bhatta. It is noted, in the Gazetteer of Malabar, that “the Pattars present no peculiarities distinguishing them from the ordinary East Coast Brahmans. Like the latter, they engage in trade and business, and form a large proportion of the official, legal, and scholastic classes. With the exception of one class known as Chōzhiya [355]or Ārya Pattars, they wear their kudumi (top-knot) on the back of the head in the east coast fashion, and not on the top and hanging over the forehead, as is done by the genuine Malayāli castes. They also live as a general rule in regular streets or grāmams on the east coast plan. Few Pattars, except in the Palghat taluk, are large land-owners. As a class, they have embraced modern educational facilities eagerly, so far as they subserve their material prospects. Both Pattars and Embrāndiris, but especially the latter, have adopted the custom of contracting sambandham (alliance) with Nāyar women, but sambandham with the foreign Brahmans is not considered to be so respectable as with Nambūdiris, and, except in the Palghat taluk (where the Nambūdiri is rare), they are not allowed to consort with the women of aristocratic families.”

In connection with the Ārya Pattars, it is recorded, in the Travancore Census Report, 1901, that “the term Aryapattar means superior Brahmins. But the actual position in society is not quite that. At Rāmēsvaram, which may be considered the seat of Aryapattars, their present status seems to be actually inferior, due probably, it is believed, to their unhesitating acceptance of gifts from Sudras, and to their open assumption of their priestly charge. Though at present a small body in Malabar, they seem to have once flourished in considerable numbers. In the case of large exogamous but high-caste communities like the Kshatriyas of Malabar, Brahmin husbands were naturally in great requisition, and when, owing to their high spiritual ideals, the Brahmins of Malabar were either Grihasthas or Snātakas (bachelor Sanyāsins dedicating their life to study, and to the performance of orthodox rites), the supply was probably unequal to the demand. The scarcity was [356]presumably added to when the differences between the Kōlattunāt Royal Family and the Brahmins of the Perinchellūr grāmam became so pronounced as to necessitate the importing of Canarese and Tulu Brahmins for priestly services at their homes and temples. The first immigration of Brahmins from the east coast, called Aryapattars, into Malabar appears to have been under the circumstances above detailed, and at the instance of the Rajas of Cranganore. With the gradual lowering of the Brahminical ideal throughout the Indian Peninsula, and with the increasing struggle for physical existence, the Nambūtiris entered or re-entered the field, and ousted the Aryapattars first from consortship, and latterly even from the ceremony of tāli-tying in families that could pay a Nambūtiri. The Aryapattar has, in his turn, trespassed into the ranks of the Nāyars, and has begun to undertake the religious rite of marriage, i.e., tāli-tying, in aristocratic families among them. There are only two families now in all Travancore, and they live in the Karunagapalli taluk. Malayālam is their household tongue; in dress and personal habits, they are indistinguishable from Malayāla Brahmins. The males marry into as high a class of Brahmins as they could get in Malabar, which is not generally higher than that of the Pōtti. The Pōtti woman thus married gets rather low in rank on account of this alliance. The daughter of an Aryapattar cannot be disposed of to a Brahminical caste in Malabar. She is taken to the Tinnevelly or Madura district, and married into the regular Aryapattar family according to the rites of the latter. The girl’s dress is changed into the Tamil form on the eve of her marriage.”

III. Āndhra.—The Telugu-speaking Brāhmans are all Āndhras, who differ from Tamil Brāhmans in some [357]of their marriage and death ceremonies, female attire, and sectarian marks. Telugu Brāhman women wear their cloth without passing it between the legs, and the free end of the skirt is brought over the left shoulder. The sect mark consists of three horizontal streaks of sacred ashes on the forehead, or a single streak of sandal paste (gandham). In the middle of the streak is a circular black spot (akshintalu or akshintalu bottu). The marriage badge is a circular plate of gold, called bottu, attached to a thread, on which black glass beads are frequently strung. A second bottu, called nāgavali bottu, is tied on the bride’s neck on the nāgavali day. During the time when the bridegroom is performing the vrata ceremony, the bride is engaged in the worship of Gauri. She sits in a new basket filled with paddy (unhusked rice) or cholam (Andropogon Sorghum). On the return from the mock pilgrimage (kāsiyātra), the bride and bridegroom sit facing each other on the dais, with a screen interposed between them. Just before the bottu is tied on the bride’s neck by the bridegroom, the screen is lowered. During the marriage ceremony, both the bride and bridegroom wear clothes dyed with turmeric, until the nāgavali day. Among Tamil Brāhmans, the bridegroom wears a turmeric-dyed cloth, and the bride may wear a silk cloth. Immediately after the tying of the bottu, the contracting couple throw rice over each other, and those assembled pour rice over their heads. This is called Talambralu.

Taken as a class, the Telugu Brāhmans are very superstitious, and the females perform a very large number of vratams. Of the vratams performed by Telugu and Canarese females, both Brāhman and non-Brāhman, the following account is given in the Manual of the Nellore district. A very favourite deity [358]is Gauri, in honour of whom many of the rites hereafter noticed are performed. These ceremonies give a vivid idea of the hopes and fears, the aspirations, and the forebodings of Hindu womanhood. The following ceremonies are practised by girls after betrothal, and before union with their husbands:—

Atlataddi.—On the third day after the full moon, an early meal before sunrise, the worship of Gauri in the afternoon, and the presentation of ten cakes to ten matrons upon the dismissal of the deity invoked. The object is to secure a young agreeable husband.

Uppu (salt).—This consists in making a present to any matron of a pot of salt, full to the brim, at the end of the year, with the view to secure a long enjoyment of the married state.

Akshayabandar.—This consists in making a present of a pot full of turmeric to any matron at the end of the year, with a view to avert the calamity of widowhood.

Udayakunkuma.—Putting the red kunkuma mark on the foreheads of five matrons before sunrise, with the object of being always able to wear the same mark on her own forehead, i.e., never to become a widow.

Padiharukudumulu.—The presentation of sixteen cakes once a year for sixteen years to a matron. This is for the attaining of wealth.

Kartika Gauri Dēvi.—Exhibiting to a matron the antimony box, with a preparation of which the eyes are trimmed to give the brilliancy, and wearing on the head turmeric rice (akshatalu). The object of this is said to be to give sight to blind relatives.

Kandanomi.—Abstaining for a year from the use of arum (Amorphophallus Campanulatus), of which the corms are an article of food), and presenting a matron [359]with a silver and gold representation of a kanda to be worn on the neck. The object to be attained is that she who performs the rite may never have to shed tears.

Gummadi Gauri Dēvi.—The presentation at the end of the year to a matron of a pumpkin in the morning, and another in the afternoon, with a silver one at food time, and a gold one to be worn round the neck. This is for the prolongation of married life.

Gandala Gauri Dēvi.—The distribution of twenty-five different sorts of things, twenty-five to be distributed to matrons at the rate of five of each sort to each. The object of this is to avert evil accidents of all kinds, which may threaten the husband.

Chittibottu.—Making the kunkuma marks on the foreheads of five matrons in the morning, for the attainment of wealth.

Isalla Chukka.—Rubbing butter-milk, turmeric, kunkuma, and sandalwood paste on the threshold of the door. The object is the same as in the last.

Tavita Navomi.—To avoid touching bran for any purpose, for the prolongation of married life.

Nitya Srungaram.—Offering betel nut, and putting the kunkuma mark on the face of a matron, for the purpose of securing perpetual beauty.

Nallapusala Gauri Dēvi.—The presentation to a matron of a hundred black beads with one gold one, the object being again to avert widowhood.

Mocheti Padmam.—The worship of some deity, and the making of the forehead mark (bottlu) for four matrons in the first year, eight in the second, and so on, increasing the number by four each year for twenty-seven years, being the number of certain stars. This presentation has to be made in silence. The object is the attainment of enduring wealth. [360]

Mogamudo sellu.—The performer washes her face thirteen times daily in a brass vessel, and offers to some matron some rice, a pearl, and a coral.

Undrallatadde.—On the thirteenth day after the full moon, taking food before sunrise, the girl worships the goddess Gauri in the afternoon, and, at the time of dismissing the deity invoked (udyapana), she presents five round cakes to as many matrons. The object of this is to secure her future husband’s affections.

Vara Lakshmi.—The worship of the goddess Lakshmi for the attainment of wealth and salvation, or to make the best of both worlds.

Vavila Gauri Dēvi.—In order to avert the risk of all accidents for her future lord, the devotee, on each of the four Tuesdays of the month Sravana, worships the goddess Gauri Dēvi, and distributes Bengal gram to married women.

Savitri Gauri Dēvi.—The offering of nine different articles on nine different days after the sun has entered the solstice, the sign of Capricorn. This is also practised to secure a husband’s affection.

Tsaddikutimangalavaram.—This is a piece of self-mortification, and consists in eating on every Tuesday for one year nothing but cold rice boiled the previous day, and feeding a matron with the same.

The following are some of the ceremonies practised by young women after attaining a marriageable age:—

Prabatcha Adivaram.—Offering worship to a married couple, and limiting the taking of food to a single meal on Sunday. This is done with the object of having children.

Apadalēni Adivaram.—Taking but one meal every Sunday, and making a presentation to five matrons of [361]five cakes with a flat basket of rice, body jackets, and other things. This is for the procuring of wealth.

Adivaram (Sunday).—Total abstinence from some one article of food for one year, another article the next year, and so on for five years; also limitation to a single meal every Sunday, and the presentation of cloths to Brāhmans upon the dismissal of the deity invoked for worship. The object of this seems to be to secure re-union with the husband after death.

Chappitti Adivaram.—Abstinence from salt on every Sunday for a year, with a view to secure the longevity of children.

Udayapadmam.—To take for one year a daily bath, and to draw the representation of a lotus with rice-flour every morning near the sacred tulasi plant (Ocimum sanctum), which is kept in many Hindu households, growing on an altar of masonry. The object of this is to restore a dead husband to life again, i.e., to secure re-union in another life.

Krishna Tulasi.—To avert widowhood, those who perform this rite present thirteen pairs of cakes in a gold cup to a Brāhman.

Kartika Chalimidi.—The distribution of chalimidi, which is flour mixed with sugar water, for three years; in the first year one and a half seer of rice, in the second year two and a half seers, and in the third year twenty-six seers, the object sought being to restore life to children that may die, i.e., restoration in another world.

Kailāsa Gauri Dēvi.—To grind one and a half viss (a measure) of turmeric without assistance in perfect silence, and then distribute it among 101 matrons, the object being to avert widowhood.

Dhairya Lakshmi.—As a charm against tears, matrons light a magic light, which must have a cotton [362]wick of the weight of one pagoda (a gold coin), and, instead of a quarter of a viss of ghee, clarified butter.

Dhanapalalu.—Giving four different sorts of grain for five years to a Brāhman, to atone for the sin of the catamenial discharge.

Nadikēsudu.—The distribution of five seers each of nine different sorts of grain, which must be dressed and eaten in the house. This is done for the procuring of wealth.

Nityadhanyamu.—Daily giving a handful of grain to any Brahmin with the object of averting widowhood.

Phalala Gauri Dēvi.—This is performed by the presentation of sixteen fruits of sixteen different species to any married woman, with the view of securing healthy offspring.

Pamidipuvulu.—With the view to avert widowhood and secure influence with their husbands, young wives practise the daily worship of thirteen flowers for a time, and afterwards present to a Brahmin the representations of thirteen flowers in gold, together with a lingam and panavattam (the seat of the lingam).

Muppadimudupurnamulu.—To avert widowhood, cakes are offered on the occasion of thirty-three full-moons; on the first one cake is eaten, on the second two, and so on up to thirty-three.

Mudukartelu.—For the attainment of wealth, women light seven hundred cotton wicks steeped in oil at the three festivals of full moon, Sankurātri (the time when the sun enters the zodiacal sign of Capricorn), and Sivarātri.

Magha Gauri Dēvi.—The worship of the goddess Gauri in the month of Magham, with a view to avert widowhood. [363]

Vishnukanta.—For the same purpose, thirteen pairs of cakes are offered in a new pot to some married woman.

Vishnuvidia.—To atone for the sin of the catamenial discharge, food is eaten without salt on the second day after every new moon.

Sokamulēni Somavaram.—The taking of food without salt every Monday, for the restoration of children removed by death.

Chitraguptulu.—Burning twelve wicks daily in oil, for the attainment of happiness in a future state.

Sukravaram.—For the acquisition of wealth, women sometimes limit themselves to one meal on Fridays, and feed five married women on each occasion of dismissing the deity invoked for worship.

Saubhagyatadde.—To avert widowhood, another practice is on the third day after every new moon to distribute, unassisted and in silence, one and a quarter viss of turmeric among thirteen matrons.

Kshirabdhi Dvādasi.—Keeping a fast day specially devoted to the worship of Vishnu, with a view to secure happiness in a future state.

Chinuku.—A woman takes a stalk of Indian corn fresh pulled up, and with it pounds rice-flour mixed with milk in a mortar. This is to avert widowhood in this world, and to secure happiness in the next.

Women who have lost children frequently perform the following two ceremonies for restoration to life or restoration in a future state:—

Kundella Amavasya (hare’s new moon).—To give thirteen different things to some married woman every new moon for thirteen months.

Kadupukadalani Gauri Dēvi.—The presentation of thirteen pairs of cakes to thirteen matrons. [364]

The following ceremonies are often performed after the cessation of the catamenial discharge, to atone for the sin contracted by their occurrence:—

Annamumuttani Adivaram.—The eating of yams and other roots every Sunday for three years, or, under certain conditions, a longer period.

Rushipanchami.—On the fifth day of Bhadrapada month to eat five balusu (Canthium parviflorum) leaves, and to drink a handful of ghee.

Gomayani.—To eat three balls of cow-dung every morning for a year.

Lakshvattulu.—To burn one lac (100,000) of wick lights.

Lakshmivarapu Ekādasi.—From the time when the eleventh day after new moon falls on a Thursday, to observe a fast, and to worship the tulasi plant for eleven days.

Margasira Lakshmivaram.—The mistress of a family will often devote herself to the worship of Lakshmi on every Thursday of the month of Margasira, in order to propitiate the goddess of wealth.

Somisomavaram.—A special worship performed on every new moon that falls on Monday, with the giving away of 360 articles, two or three on each occasion. This is performed with the view of attaining atonement for sins, and happiness in a future state.

There are many ceremonies performed by women to whom nature has denied the much-coveted joys of maternity. Among these may be noted:—

Asvadhapradakshinam.—In villages is often to be seen a margosa (Melia Azadirachta)tree, round which a pīpul tree (Ficus religiosa) has twined itself. The ceremony consists in a woman walking round and round this tree several times daily for a long period. [365]

The sub-divisions of the Telugu Brāhmans are as follows:—

  • A.—Vaidiki.
    • 1. Murikinādu.
    • 2. Telaganyam.
    • 3. Velnādu.
    • 4. Kasalnādu.
    • 5. Karnakammalu.
    • 6. Veginādu.
    • 7. Konesime.
    • 8. Ārama Drāvida.
    • 9. Ārādhya.
    • 10. Prathamasāki.
  • B.—Niyogi.
    • 1. Āruvela.
    • 2. Nandavarikulu.
    • 3. Kammalu.
    • 4. Pesalavayalu.
    • 5. Prānganādu.
  • C.—Tambala.
  • D.—Immigrants.
    • 1. Pudur Drāvida.
    • 2. Thummagunta Drāvida.

All these sections are endogamous, and will eat together, except the Tambalas, who correspond to the Gurukkals among the Tamil Brāhmans. Vaidikis are supposed to be superior to Niyōgis. The former do not generally grow moustaches, while the latter do. For srādh ceremonies, Niyōgis do not generally sit as Brāhmans representing the ancestors, Vaidikis being engaged for this purpose. In some places, e.g., the Nandigama tāluk of the Kistna district, the Niyōgis are not referred to by the name Brāhman, Vaidikis being so called. Even Niyōgis themselves point to Vaidikis when asked about Brāhmans.

Velnādu, Murikinādu, and Vēginādu seem to be territorial names, and they occur also among some of the non-Brāhman castes. The Ārādhyas are dealt with in a special article (see Ārādhya). Among the Karnakammas are certain sub-sections, such as Ōgōti and [366]Koljēdu. They all belong to Rig Sāka. Of the Telaganyams, some follow the Rig Vēda, and others the Yejur Vēda (both black and white Yajus). The Nandavarikulu are all Rig Vēdis, and regard Chaudēswari, the goddess of the Dēvāngas, as their tutelary deity. When a Nandavariki Brāhman goes to a Dēvānga temple, he is treated with much respect, and the Dēvānga priest gives up his place to the Nandavariki for the time being. The Nandavariki Brāhmans are, in fact, gurus or priests to the Dēvēngas.

A special feature of the Telugu Brāhmans is that, like the Telugu non-Brāhman classes, they have house names or intipērulu, of which the following are examples:—Kōta (fort), Lanka (island), Puchcha (Citrullus Colocynthis), Chintha (tamarind), Kākī (crow). Niyōgi house-names sometimes terminate with the word rāzu.

IV. Carnātaka.—The sub-divisions of the Carnātakas or Canarese-speaking Brāhmans are as follows:—

  • A.—Smartha.
    • 1. Aruvaththuvokkālu.
    • 2. Badaganādū.
    • 3. Hosalnādu.
    • 4. Hoisanige or Vaishanige.
    • 5. Kamme (Bobburu, Karna, and Ulcha).
    • 6. Sīrnādu.
    • 7. Māraka.
  • B.—Mādhva.
    • 1. Aruvēla.
    • 2. Aruvaththuvokkalu.
    • 3. Badaganādu.
    • 4. Pennaththūrar.
    • 5. Prathamasāki.
    • 6. Hyderabadi.

The Carnātakas very closely resemble the Āndhras in their ceremonial observances, and, like them, attach much importance to vratams. The Mādhva Carnātakas are recent converts from Carnātaka or Āndhra Smarthas. The Pennaththūrars are supposed to be Tamil Brāhmans converted into Mādhvas. They retain some of the customs peculiar to the Tamil Brāhmans. The [367]marriage badge, for example, is the Tamil tāli and not the bottu. Intermarriages between Smarthas and Mādhvas of the same section are common. Mādhvas, excepting the very orthodox, will take food with both Carnātaka and Āndhra Smarthas.

The Mārakas are thus described by Mr. Lewis Rice.106 “A caste claiming to be Brāhmans, but not recognised as such. They worship the Hindu triad, but are chiefly Vishnuvites, and wear the trident mark on their foreheads. They call themselves Hale Kannadiga or Hale Karnātaka, the name Marka107 being considered as one of reproach, on which account also many have doubtless returned themselves as Brāhmans of one or other sect. They are said to be descendants of some disciples of Sankarāchārya, the original guru of Sringēri, and the following legend is related of the cause of their expulsion from the Brāhman caste to which their ancestors belonged. One day Sankarāchārya, wishing to test his disciples, drank some toddy in their presence, and the latter, thinking it could be no sin to follow their master’s example, indulged freely in the same beverage. Soon after, when passing a butcher’s shop, Sankārachārya asked for alms; the butcher had nothing but meat to give, which the guru and his disciples ate. According to the Hindu shāstras, red-hot iron alone can purify a person who has eaten flesh and drunk toddy. Sankarāchārya went to a blacksmith’s furnace, and begged from him some red-hot iron, which he swallowed and was purified. The disciples were unable to imitate their master in the matter of [368]the red-hot iron, and besought him to forgive their presumption in having dared to imitate him in partaking of forbidden food. Sankarāchārya refused to give absolution, and cursed them as unfit to associate with the six sects of Brāhmans. The caste is making a strong effort to be readmitted among Brāhmans, and some have recently become disciples of Parakālaswāmi. Their chief occupations are agriculture, and Government service as shānbogs or village accountants.” It is recorded, in the Mysore Census Report, 1891, that “some of the more intelligent and leading men in the clan give another explanation (of the legend). It is said that either in Dewān Pūrnaiya’s time, or some time before, a member of this micro-caste rose to power, and persecuted the people so mercilessly that, with characteristic inaptitude, they gave him the nickname Māraka or the slaughterer or destroyer, likening him to the planet Mars, which, in certain constellations, is astrologically dreaded as wielding a fatal influence on the fortunes of mortals. There is, however, no doubt that, in their habits, customs, religion and ceremonials, these people are wholly Brāhmanical, but still they remain entirely detached from the main body of the Brāhmans. Since the census of 1871, the Halē Kannadigas have been strenuously struggling to get themselves classified among the Brāhmans. About 25 years ago, the Srīngēri Math issued on behalf of the Smarta portion of the people a Srīmukh (papal bull) acknowledging them to be Brāhmans. A similar pronouncement was also obtained from the Parakāl Math at Mysore about three years later on behalf of the Srīvaishnavas among them. And the Local Government directed, a little after the census of 1881, that they should be entered as Brāhmans in the Government accounts.” [369]

The Mādhva Brāhmans commence the marriage ceremony by asking the ancestors of the bridal couple to bless them, and be present throughout the performance of the rites. To represent the ancestors, a ravike (bodice) and dhotra (man’s cloth) are tied to a stick, which is placed near the box containing the sālagrāma stone and household gods. In consequence of these ancestors being represented, orthodox Vaidiki Brāhmans refuse to take food in the marriage house. When the bridegroom is conducted to the marriage booth by his future father-in-law, all those who have taken part in the Kāsiyātra ceremony, throw rice over him. A quaint ceremony, called rangavriksha (drawing), is performed on the morning of the second day. After the usual playing with balls of flowers (nalagu or nalangu), the bridegroom takes hold of the right hand of the bride, and, after dipping her right forefinger in turmeric and chunam (lime) paste, traces on a white wall the outline of a plantain tree, of which a sketch has previously been made by a married woman. The tracing goes on for three days. First the base of the plant is drawn, and, on the evening of the third day, it is completed by putting in the flower spikes. On the third night the bridegroom is served with sweets and other refreshments by his mother-in-law, from whose hands he snatches the vessels containing them. He picks out what he likes best, and scatters the remainder about the room. The pollution caused thereby is removed by sprinkling water and cow-dung, which is done by the cook engaged for the marriage by the bridegroom’s family. After washing his hands, the bridegroom goes home, taking with him a silver vessel, which he surreptitiously removes from near the gods. Along with this vessel he is supposed to steal a rope for drawing water, [370]and a rice-pounding stone. But in practice he only steals the vessel, and the other articles are claimed by his people on their return home.

Branding for religious purposes is confined to Srī Vaishnavas and Mādhvas. Srī Vaishnava Brāhmans are expected to undergo this ordeal at least once during their life-time, whereas Mādhva Brāhmans have to submit to it as often as they visit their guru (head of a mutt). Of men of other castes, those who become followers of a Vaishnava or Mādhva Āchārya (guru) or mutt, are expected to present themselves before the guru for the purpose of being branded. But the ceremony is optional, and not compulsory as in the case of the Brāhmans. Among Srī Vaishnavites, the privilege of branding is confined to the elder members of a family, Sanyāsis (ascetics), and the heads of the various mutts. All individuals, male and female, must be branded, after the Upanayanam ceremony in the case of males, and after marriage in the case of females. The disciples, after a purificatory bath and worship of their gods, proceed to the residence of the Āchārya or to the mutt, where they are initiated into their religion, and branded with the chakra on the right shoulder and chank on the left. The initiation consists in imparting to the disciple, in a very low tone, the Mūla Mantram, the word Nāmonarāyanāya, the sacred syllable Ōm, and a few mantrams from the Brahma Rahasyam (secrets about god). A person who has not been initiated thus is regarded as unfit to take part in the ceremonies which have to be performed by Brāhmans. Even close relations, if orthodox, will refuse to take food prepared or touched by the uninitiated. Concerning Mādhvas, Monier Williams writes as follows108: “They [371]firmly believe that it is a duty of Vaishnavas to carry throughout life a memorial of their god on their persons, and that such a lasting outward and visible sign of his presence helps them to obtain salvation through him. ‘On his right armlet the Brāhman wears the discus, on his left the conch shell.’ When I was at Tanjore, I found that one of the successors of Mādhva had recently arrived on his branding visitation. He was engaged throughout the entire day in stamping his disciples, and receiving fees from all according to their means.” Mādhvas have four mutts to which they repair for the branding ceremony, viz., Vayasaraya, Sumathendra and Mulabagal in Mysore, and Uttarāja in South Canara. The followers of the Uttāraja mutt are branded in five places in the case of adult males, and boys after the thread investiture. The situations and emblems selected are the chakra on the right upper arm, right side of the chest, and above the navel; the chank on the left shoulder and left side of the chest. Women, and girls after marriage, are branded with the chakra on the right forearm, and the chank on the left. In the case of widows, the marks are impressed on the shoulders as in the case of males. The disciples of the three other mutts are generally branded with the chakra on the right upper arm, and chank on the left. As the branding is supposed to remove sins committed during the interval, they get it done every time they see their guru. There is with Mādhvas no restriction as to the age at which the ceremony should be performed. Even a new-born babe, after the pollution period of ten days, must receive the mark of the chakra, if the guru should turn up. Boys before the upanayanam, and girls before marriage, are branded with the chakra on the abdomen just above the navel. The copper or brass branding [372]instruments (mudras) are not heated to a very high temperature, but sufficient to singe the skin, and leave a deep black mark in the case of adults, and a light mark in that of young people and babies. In some cases, disciples, who are afraid of being hurt, bribe the person who heats the instruments; but, as a rule, the guru regulates the temperature so as to suit the individual. If, for example, the disciple is a strong, well-built man, the instruments are well heated, and, if he is a weakling, they are allowed to cool somewhat before their application. If the operator has to deal with babies, he presses the instrument against a wet rag before applying it to the infant’s skin. Some Matathipathis (head priests of the mutt) are, it is said, inclined to be vindictive, and to make a very hot application of the instruments, if the disciple has not paid the fee (gurukānika) to his satisfaction. The fee is not fixed in the case of Sri Vaishnavas, whereas Mādhvas are expected to pay from one to three months’ income for being branded. Failure to pay is punished with excommunication on some pretext or other. The area of skin branded generally peels off within a week, leaving a pale mark of the mudra, which either disappears in a few months, or persists throughout life. Mādhvas should stamp mudras with gōpi paste (white kaolin) daily on various parts of the body. The names of these mudras are chakra, chank or sankha, gātha (the weapon of war used by Bhīma, one of the Pāndavas), padma (lotus), and Narāyana. The chakra is stamped thrice on the abdomen above the navel, twice on the right flank, twice on the right side of the chest above the nipple, twice on the right arm, once on the right temple, once on the left side of the chest, and once on the left arm. The chank is stamped twice on the right side of the [373]chest, in two places on the left arm, and once on the left temple. The gātha is stamped in two places on the right arm, twice on the chest, and in one spot on the forehead. The padma is stamped twice on the left arm, and twice on the left side of the chest. Narāyana is stamped on all places where other mudra marks have been made. Sometimes it is difficult to put on all the marks after the daily morning bath. In such cases, a single mudra mark, containing all the five mudras, is made to suffice. Some regard the chakra mudra as sufficient on occasions of emergency.

The god Hanumān (the monkey god) is specially reverenced by Mādhvas, who call him Mukyaprānadēvaru (the chief god).

V. Tulu.—The Tulu-speaking Brāhmans are, in their manners and customs, closely allied to the Carnatakas. Their sub-divisions are—

  • 1. Shivalli.
  • 2. Kōta.
  • 3. Kandāvara.
  • 4. Havīk or Haiga.
  • 5. Pānchagrāmi.
  • 6. Kōteswar.

The following interesting account of the Tulu Brāhmans is given by Mr. H. A. Stuart109:—

“All Tulu Brahmin chronicles agree in ascribing the creation of Malabar and Canara, or Kērala, Tuluva, and Haiga, to Parasu Rāma, who reclaimed from the sea as much land as he could cover by hurling his battle-axe from the top of the Western Ghauts. According to Tulu traditions, after a quarrel with Brahmins who used to come to him periodically from Ahi-Kshētra, Parasu Rāma procured new Brahmins for the reclaimed tract by taking the nets of some fishermen, and making a number of Brahminical threads, with which he invested [374]the fishermen, and thus turned them into Brahmins, and retired to the mountains to meditate, after informing them that, if they were in distress and called on him, he would come to their aid. After the lapse of some time, during which they suffered no distress, they were curious to know if Parasu Rāma would remember them, and called upon him in order to find out. He promptly appeared, but punished their thus mocking him by cursing them, and causing them to revert to their old status of Sudras. After this, there were no Brahmins in the land till Tulu Brahmins were brought from Ahi-Kshētra by Mayūr Varma of the Kadamba dynasty. A modified form of the tradition states that Parasu Rāma gave the newly reclaimed land to Nāga and Machi Brahmins, who were not true Brahmins, and were turned out or destroyed by fishermen and Holeyas (Pariahs), who held the country till the Tulu Brahmins were introduced by Mayūr Varma. All traditions unite in attributing the introduction of the Tulu Brahmins of the present day to Mayūr Varma, but they vary in details connected with the manner in which they obtained a firm footing in the land. One account says that Habāshika, chief of the Koragas (Pariahs), drove out Mayūr Varma, but was in turn expelled by Mayūr Varma’s son, or son-in-law, Lōkāditya of Gōkarnam, who brought Brahmins from Ahi-Kshētra and settled them in thirty-two villages. Another makes Mayūr Varma himself the invader of the country, which till then had remained in the possession of the Holeyas (Pariahs) and fishermen who had turned out Parasu Rāma’s Brahmins. Mayūr Varma and the Brahmins whom he had brought from Ahi-Kshētra were again driven out by Nanda, a Holeya chief, whose son Chandra Sayana had, however, learned respect for Brahmins from his mother, who had been a dancing-girl [375]in a temple. His admiration for them became so great that he not only brought back the Brahmins, but actually made over all his authority to them, and reduced his people to the position of slaves. A third account makes Chandra Sayana, not a son of a Holeya king, but a descendant of Mayūr Varma and a conqueror of the Holeya king. Nothing is known from other sources of Lōkāditya, Habāshika, or Chandra Sayana, but inscriptions speak to Mayūr Varma being the founder of the dynasty of the Kadambas of Banavāsi in North Canara. His date is usually put down at about 750 A.D. The correctness of the traditions, which prevail in Malabar as well as in Canara, assigning the introduction of Brahmins to the West Coast to Mayūr Varma who was in power about 750 A.D., is to some extent corroborated by the fact that Brahmins attested the Malabar Perumal’s grant to the Christians in 774 A.D., but not that to the Jews about 700 A.D. The Brahmins are said to have been brought from Ahi-Kshētra, on the banks of the Gōdāvari, but it is not clear what connection a Kadamba of Banavāsi could have with the banks of the Gōdāvari, and there may be something in the suggestion made in the North Kanara Gazetteer that Ahi-Kshētra is merely a sanskritised form of Haiga or the land of snakes. The tradition speaks of the Brahmins having been brought by Lōkāditya from Gōkarnam, which is in the extreme north of Haiga, and in the local history of the Honalli Matha in Sunda in North Canara, Gōkarnam is spoken of as being Ahi-Kshētra. Gōkarnam is believed to have been a Brahmin settlement in very early times, and there was probably a further influx of Brahmins there as Muhammadan conquest advanced in the north.

“The class usually styled Tulu Brahmins at the present day are the Shivalli Brahmins, whose [376]head-quarters are at Udipi, and who are most numerous in the southern part of the district, but the Kōta, Kōtēshwar, and Haiga or Havīka Brahmins are all branches of the same, the differences between them having arisen since their settlement in Canara; and, though they now talk Canarese in common with the people of other parts to the north of the Sītanadi river, their religious works are still written in the old Tulu-Malayālam character. Tulu Brahmins, who have settled in Malabar in comparatively late years, are known as Embrāntris, and treated as closely allied to the Nambūtiris, whose traditions go back to Mayūr Varma. Some families of Shivalli and Havīka Brahmins in the southern or Malayālam portion of the district talk Malayālam, and follow many of the customs of the Malabar or Nambūtiri Brahmins. Many of the thirty-two villages in which the Brahmins are said to have been settled by Mayūr Varma are still the most important centres of Brahminism. Notably may be mentioned Shivalli or Udipi, Kōta and Kōtēshwar, which have given names to the divisions of Tulu Brahmins of which these villages are respectively the head-quarters. When the Brahmins were introduced by Mayūr Varma they are said to have been followers of Bhattāchārya, but they soon adopted the tenets of the great Malayālam Vēdāntic teacher Sankarāchārya, who is ordinarily believed to have been born at Cranganore in Malabar in the last quarter of the eighth century, that is, soon after the arrival of the Brahmins on the west coast. Sankarāchārya is known as the preacher of the Advaita (non-dual) philosophy, which, stated briefly, is that all living beings are one with the supreme spirit, and absorption may finally be obtained by the constant renunciation of material in favour of spiritual pleasure. This philosophy, however, was not sufficient for the [377]common multitude, and his system included, for weaker minds, the contemplation of the first cause through a multitude of inferior deities, and, as various manifestations of Siva and his consort Parvati, he found a place for all the most important of the demons worshipped by the early Dravidians whom the Brahmins found on the West Coast, thus facilitating the spread of Hinduism throughout all classes. That the conversion of the Bants and Billavas, and other classes, took place at a very early date may be inferred from the fact that, though the great bulk of the Tulu Brahmins of South Canara adopted the teaching of the Vaishnavite reformer Mādhavāchārya, who lived in the thirteenth century, most of the non-Brahmin Hindus in the district class themselves as Shaivites to this day. Sankarāchārya founded the Sringēri Matha in Mysore near the borders of the Udipi taluk, the guru of which is the spiritual head of such of the Tulu Brahmins of South Canara as have remained Smarthas or adherents of the teaching of Sankarāchārya. Mādhavāchārya is believed to have been born about 1199 A.D. at Kaliānpur, a few miles from Udipi. He propounded the Dvaita or dual philosophy, repudiating the doctrine of oneness and final absorption held by ordinary Vaishnavites as well as by the followers of Sankarāchārya. The attainment of a place in the highest heaven is to be secured, according to Mādhavāchārya’s teaching, not only by the renunciation of material pleasure, but by the practice of virtue in thought, word and deed. The moral code of Mādhavāchārya is a high one, and his teaching is held by some—not ordinary Hindus of course—to have been affected by the existence of the community of Christians at Kaliānpur mentioned by Cosmos Indico Pleustes in the seventh century. Mādhavāchārya placed the worship [378]of Vishnu above that of Siva, but there is little bitterness between Vaishnavites and Shaivites in South Canara, and there are temples in which both are worshipped under the name of Shankara Nārāyana. He denied that the spirits worshipped by the early Dravidians were manifestations of Siva’s consort, but he accorded sanction to their worship as supernatural beings of a lower order.

“Shivalli Brahmins. The Tulu-speaking Brahmins of the present day are almost all followers of Mādhavāchārya, though a few remain Smarthas, and a certain number follow what is known as the Bhagavat Sampradāyam, and hold that equal honour is due to both Vishnu and Siva. They are now generally called Shivalli Brahmins, their head-quarters being at Udipi or Shivalli, a few miles from Mādhavāchārya’s birth-place. Here Mādhavāchārya is said to have resided for some time, and composed thirty-seven controversial works, after which he set out on a tour. The temple of Krishna at Udipi is said to have been founded by Mādhavāchārya himself, who set up in it the image of Krishna originally made by Arjuna, and miraculously obtained by him from a vessel wrecked on the coast of Tuluva. In it he also placed one of the three sālagrāms presented to him by the sage Vēda Vyāsa. Besides the temple at Udipi, he established eight Mathas or sacred houses, each presided over by a sanyāsi or swāmi. [Their names are Sodhē, Krishnāpur, Sīrur, Kānur, Pējāvar, Adamar, Palamar, and Puththige.] These exist to this day, and each swāmi in turn presides over the temple of Krishna for a period of two years, and spends the intervening fourteen years touring through Canara and the adjacent parts of Mysore, levying contributions from the faithful for his next two years of office, which are very heavy, as he has to defray not only the expenses [379]of public worship and of the temple and Matha establishments, but must also feed every Brahmin who comes to the place. The following description of a Matha visited by Mr. Walhouse110 gives a very good idea of what one of these buildings is like: ‘The building was two-storeyed, enclosing a spacious quadrangle round which ran a covered verandah or cloister; the wide porched entrance opened into a fine hall supported by massive pillars with expanding capitals handsomely carved; the ceiling was also wooden, panelled and ornamented with rosettes and pendants as in baronial halls, and so were the solid doors. Within these was an infinity of rooms, long corridors lined with windowless cells, apartments for meditation and study, store-rooms overflowing with all manner of necessaries, granaries, upper rooms with wide projecting windows latticed instead of glass with pierced wood-work in countless tasteful patterns, and in the quadrangle there was a draw-well and small temple, while a large yard behind contained cattle of all kinds from a goat to an elephant. All things needful were here gathered together. Outside sat pilgrims, poor devotees, and beggars waiting for the daily dole, and villagers were continually arriving with grain, vegetables, etc.’ The periodical change of the swāmi presiding over the temple of Krishna is the occasion of a great festival known as the Pariyāya, when Udipi is filled to overflowing by a large concourse of Mādhvas, not only from the district but from more distant parts, especially from the Mysore territory. [A very imposing object in the temple grounds, at the time of my visit in 1907, was an enormous stack of fire-wood for temple purposes.] The following is a description111 of a festival at the Udipi [380]Krishna temple witnessed by Mr. Walhouse: ‘Near midnight, when the moon rode high in a cloudless heaven, his (Krishna’s) image—not the very sacred one, which may not be handled, but a smaller duplicate—was brought forth by four Brahmins and placed under a splendid canopy on a platform laid across two large canoes. The whole square of the tank (pond) was lit up by a triple line of lights. Small oil cressets at close intervals, rockets and fireworks ascended incessantly, and the barge, also brilliantly lit up, and carrying a band of discordant music, and Brahmins fanning the image with silver fans, was punted round and round the tank amid loud acclamations. After this, the image was placed in a gorgeous silver-plated beaked palanquin, and borne solemnly outside the temple to the great idol car that stood dressed up and adorned with an infinity of tinsel, flags, streamers and flower wreaths. On this it was lifted, and placed in a jewel shrine amidst a storm of applause and clapping of hands—these seem the only occasions when Hindus do clap hands—and then, with all the company of Brahmins headed by the swāmis marching in front, followed by flambeaus and wild music, the car was slowly hauled by thousands of votaries round the square which was illuminated by three lines of lights, ascending at intervals into pyramids. A pause was made half-way, when there was a grand display of rockets, fire fountains and wheels, and two lines of camphor and oiled cotton laid along the middle of the road were kindled and flamed up brilliantly. Then the car moved on to the entrance of the temple, and the god’s outing was accomplished.’ Another famous temple of the Shivallis is Subramanya at the foot of the ghauts on the Coorg border, and here also Mādhavāchārya deposited one of Vēda Vyāsa’s sālagrāms. It [381]existed before his time, however, and, as the name indicates, it is dedicated to the worship of Siva. In addition to this, it is the principal centre of serpent worship in the district.

“Many of the Shivalli Brahmins are fair complexioned with well-cut intelligent features. A number of them own land which they cultivate by tenants or by hired labourers, and there are several wealthy families with large landed properties, but the great bulk of them are either astronomers, astrologers, tantris, purohitas, worshippers in temples, or professional beggars. They have been backward in availing themselves of English education, and consequently not many of them are to be found holding important posts under Government or in the professions, but a few have come to the front in late years. A good many of them are village accountants and teachers in village schools. The women, as is usually the case among all classes, are fairer than the men. Their education is even more limited, but they are said to be well trained for the discharge of household and religious duties. They wear the cloth falling as low as the feet in front, but not usually so low behind, especially on festive occasions, the end being passed between the legs and tucked into the fold of the cloth round the waist. Like all Brahmin women in Canara, they are fond of wearing sweet-scented flowers in their hair. The language of the Shivalli Brahmins is Tulu, except to the north of the Sītanadi river, where close intercourse with the ruling Canarese classes above the ghauts for several centuries has led to the adoption of that language by all classes. Their religious books are in Sanskrit, and, even north of the Sītanadi river, they are written in the old Tulu-Malayālam character. Their houses are all neat, clean, and provided with verandahs, [382]and a yard in front, in which stands, in a raised pot, a plant of the tulasi or sacred basil. Some of the houses of the old families are really large and substantial buildings, with an open courtyard in the centre. Men and widows bathe the whole body every day before breakfast, but married women bathe only up to the neck, it being considered inauspicious for them to bathe the head also. In temples and religious houses, males bathe in the evening also. An oil bath is taken once a week. They are, of course, abstainers from animal food and spirituous liquors, and a prohibition extends to some other articles, such as onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. At times of marriages, deaths or initiations, it is usual to give feasts, which may be attended by all Drāvida Brahmins. The Shivallis have 252 gōtras, and the names of the following seem to be of totemistic origin:—

  • Kudrettāya, from kudre, a horse, taya, belonging to.
  • Tālitāya, palmyra palm.
  • Manōlitāya, name of a vegetable.
  • Shunnatāya, chunam, lime.
  • Kalambitāya, a kind of box.
  • Nellitāya, the Indian gooseberry.
  • Gōli, banyan tree.
  • Āne, elephant.

“These names were obtained from one of the eight swāmis or gurus of the Udipi math, and according to him they have no totemistic force at the present day. Girls must be married before maturity, and the ordinary age now-a-days is between five and eleven. The age of the bridegroom is usually between fifteen and five and twenty. A maternal uncle’s daughter can be married without consulting any horoscope, and during the marriage ceremonies it is customary for a bridegroom’s sister to obtain from him a formal promise that, if he has a daughter, he will give her in marriage to her son. [383]Widows take off all their ornaments, and wear a red or white cloth. They ought not to attend any auspicious ceremonies or festivals, but of late years there has been a tendency to relax the severity of the restrictions on a widow’s freedom, and a young widow is allowed to keep her head unshaven, and to wear a few ornaments. A few Shivallis in the Malayālam-speaking portion of the Kāsaragōd taluk follow the customs and manners of the Malayālam Brahmins, and amongst these a girl does not lose caste by remaining unmarried until she comes of age.

“Kōtēshwar Brahmins are a small body, who take their name from Kōtēshwar in the Coondapoor taluk. They are practically the same as the Shivalli Brahmins, except that, like all classes in that taluk, they talk Canarese.

“Havīka, Havīga, or Haiga Brahmins are the descendants of the section of the Brahmins brought in by Mayūr Varma, who settled within the tract known as Haiga, which comprised the southern part of North Canara and the extreme northern part of South Canara. They did not, like the Shivallis, adopt the teaching of Mādhavāchārya, but remained followers of Sankarāchārya, and they now speak Canarese, though their religious and family records are written in old Tulu-Malayālam character. Though originally of the same stock, a distinction has arisen between them and the Shivalli Brahmins, and they do not intermarry, though they may eat together. A number of Havīka Brahmins are to be found scattered throughout South Canara, engaged for the most part in the cultivation of areca palm gardens, in which they are very expert. A very well-to-do colony of them is to be found in the neighbourhood of Vittal in the Kāsaragōd taluk, where they grow [384]areca nuts which are valued only second to those grown in the māgane of the Coondapoor taluk above the ghauts. The Havīka Brahmins, perhaps owing to their residing for many generations in the comparatively cool shade of the areca nut gardens, are specially fair even for west coast Brahmins. This fairness of complexion is particularly noticeable in the women, who do not differ much in their manners and customs from the Shivalli Brahmin women, except that they take a prominent part in the work of the gardens, and never on any occasion wear the end of their cloth passed through the legs and tucked up behind. The Havīk widows are allowed more freedom than in most other classes. Some Havīk Brahmins in the Malayālam portion of the Kāsaragōd taluk have, like the Shivallis in the same locality, adopted the language and customs of the Malayāli Brahmins.

“Kōta Brahmins, so called from a village in the northern part of the Udipi taluk, are, like the Havīks, Smarthas or followers of Sankarāchārya, and now speak Canarese, but the breach between them and the Shivallis is not so wide, as intermarriages occasionally take place. In the Coondapoor taluk and the northern part of the Udipi taluk, the Kōtas occupy a place in the community corresponding to that taken by the Shivallis throughout the rest of the district.

“Saklāpuris, of whom there are a few in the district, are what may be called a dissenting sect of Havīkas who, a few years ago, renounced their allegiance to the Rāmchandrapura matha in favour of one at Saklāpuri near the boundary between North and South Canara. Like the Havīkas, they speak Canarese.

“Kandāvaras obtain their name from the village of Kandāvar in the Coondapoor taluk. They are commonly [385]known as Udapas, and they all belong to one gōtram, that of Visvamitra. They are, therefore, precluded from marrying within the caste, and take their wives and husbands from the ranks of the Shivalli Brahmins. They are, indeed, said to be the descendants of a Shivalli Brahmin who settled in Kandāvar about seven or eight centuries ago. The head of the Annu Udapa family, which is called after this ancestor, is the hereditary head of the caste, and presides over all panchāyats or caste councils. They speak Canarese. Their title is Udapa or Udpa.”

In a note on the Brāhmans of South Canara, Mr. T. Raghaviah writes as follows112:—“The sentimental objection to manual labour, which is so predominant in the East Coast Brahmin, and the odium attached to it in this country, which has crystallised into the religious belief that, if a Brahmin cultivates with his own hand, the fire of his hand would burn down all that he touches, have entirely disappeared in South Canara. In the rural parts of the district, and especially at the foot of the Western Ghauts, it is an exceedingly common sight to see Brahmins engaging themselves in digging, ploughing or levelling their lands, trimming their water-courses or ledges, raising anicuts across streams, and doing a hundred other items of manual work connected with agriculture. Brahmin women busy themselves with cutting green leaves for manure, making and storing manure and carrying it to their lands or trees, and Brahmin boys are employed in tending and grazing their own cattle. This is so much the case with a class of Brahmins called Havīks that there is a proverb that none but a Havīk can raise an areca garden. You find, [386]as a matter of fact, that nearly all the extensive areca plantations in the district are in the hands of either the Havīk Brahmins or the Chitpāvans allied much to the Mahratta Brahmins of Bombay. These plantations are managed by these Brahmins, and new ones are raised with the aid of a handful of Holeyas, or often without even such aid.”

VI. Oriya.—The Oriya Brāhmans of the Ganjam district belong to the Utkala section of the Pancha Gaudas. Between them and the Pancha Drāvidas there is very considerable difference. None of the sections of the Pancha Drāvidas adopt the gōsha system as regards their females, whereas Oriya Brāhman women are kept gōsha (in seclusion). Occasionally they go out to bring water, and, if on their way they come across any males, they go to the side of the road, and turn their backs to the passers-by. It is noted, in the Manual of the Vizagapatam district, that Oriya Brāhmans “eat many kinds of meat, as pea fowl, sāmbur (deer), barking deer, pigeons, wild pig, and fish.” Fish must be one of the dishes prepared on festive occasions. As a rule, Oriya Brāhmans will accept water from a Gaudo (especially a Sullokondia Gaudo), and sometimes from Gudiyas and Odiyas. Water touched by Drāvida Brāhmans is considered by them to be polluted. They call the Drāvidas Komma (a corruption of Karma) Brāhmans. The Oriya Brāhmans are more particular than the Drāvidas as regards the madi cloth, which has already been referred to. A cloth intended for use as a madi cloth is never given to a washerman to be washed, and it is not worn by the Oriya Brāhmans when they answer the calls of nature, but removed, and replaced after bathing. Marriage with a maternal uncle’s daughter, which is common among the Drāvida Brāhmans, would be considered [387]an act of sacrilege by Oriyas. When an Oriya Brāhman is charged with being a meat eater, he retorts that it is not nearly so bad as marrying a mathulakanya (maternal uncle’s daughter). The marriage tāli or bottu is dispensed with by Oriya Brāhmans, who, at marriages, attach great importance to the pānigrahanam (grasping the bride’s hand) and saptapadi (seven steps). The Oriya Brāhmans are both Smarthas and Vaishnavas who are generally Paramarthos or followers of Chaitanya. The god Jagannātha of Puri is reverenced by them, and they usually carry about with them some of the prasādham (food offered to the god) from Puri. They are divided into the following twelve sections:—

  • (1) Sānto (sāmānta, a chief).
  • (2) Dānua (gift-taking).
  • (3) Pādhiya (one who learns the Vēdas).
  • (4) Sārua (sāru, tubers of the arum Colocasia antiqitorum).
  • (5) Holua (holo, yoke of a plough).
  • (6) Bhodri (Bhadriya, an agrahāram on the Ganges).
  • (7) Bārua (a small sea-port town).
  • (8) Deuliya (one who serves in temples).
  • (9) Kotokiya (kotaka, palace. Those who live in palaces as servants to zamindars).
  • (10) Sāhu (creditor).
  • (11) Jhādua (jungle).
  • (12) Sodeibālya (those who follow an ungodly life).

It is recorded, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, that “the Sāntos regard themselves as superior to the others, and will not do purōhit’s work for them, though they will for zamindars. They are also very scrupulous about the behaviour of their womenkind. The Dānuas live much by begging, especially at the funerals of wealthy persons, but both they and the Pādhiyas know the Vēdas, and are priests to the zamindars and the higher classes of Sūdras. The Sāruas cultivate the [388]‘yam’ (Colocasia), and the Holuas go a step further, and engage in ordinary cultivation—actual participation in which is forbidden to Brāhmans by Manu, as it involves taking the lives of worms and insects. A few of the Sāruas are qualified to act as purōhits, but the Holuas hardly ever are, and they were shown in the 1891 census to be the most illiterate of all the Brāhmans of the Presidency. Few of them even perform the Sandhya and Tarpana, which every Brāhman should scrupulously observe. Yet they are regarded as ceremonially pure, and are often cooks to the zamindars. Regarding the sixth class, the Bhodris, a curious legend is related. Bhodri means a barber, and the ancestor of the sub-division is said to have been the son of a barber who was brought up at Puri with some Sānto boys, and so learned much of the Vēdas and Shāstras. He left Puri and went into Jeypore, wearing the thread and passing himself off as a Brāhman, and eventually married a Brāhman girl, by whom he got children who also married Brāhmans. At last, however, he was found out, and taken back to Puri, where he committed suicide. The Brāhmans said they would treat his children as Brāhmans if a plant of the sacred tulsi grew on his grave, but, instead of tulsi, a plant of tobacco appeared there, and so his descendants are Bhodris or barber Brāhmans, and even Karnams, Gaudos, and Mahantis decline to accept water at their hands. They cultivate tobacco and ‘yams,’ but nevertheless officiate in temples, and are purōhits to the lower non-polluting castes. Of the remaining six divisions, the Bāruas are the only ones who do purōhit’s work for other castes, and they only officiate for the lower classes of Sūdras. Except the Sodeibālyas, the others all perform the Sandhya and Tarpana. Their [389]occupations, however, differ considerably. The Bāruas are pūjāris in the temples, and physicians. The Deuliyas are pūjāris and menials in zamindars’ houses, growers of ‘yams,’ and even day labourers. The Kotokiyas are household servants to zamindars. The Sāhus trade in silk cloths, grain, etc., and are money-lenders. The Jhāduas are hill cultivators, and traders with pack-bullocks. The last of the divisions, the Sodeibālyas, are menial servants to the zamindars, and work for daily hire.”

VII. Sārasvat and Konkani.—Both these classes belong to the Gauda branch, and speak the Konkani language. The original habitation of the Konkanis is said to have been the bank of the Sarasvati, a river well known in early Sanskrit works, but said to have subsequently lost itself in the sands of the desert, north of Rajputana. As they do not abstain from fish, the other Brāhmans among whom they have settled regard them as low. The full name as given by the Konkanis is Gauda Sārasvata Konkanastha. All the Konkani Brāhmans found in South Canara are Rig Vēdis. Like the Shivalli Brāhmans, they have numerous exogamous septs, which are used as titles after their names. For example, Prabhu is a sept, and Krishna Prabhu the name of an individual. A large majority of the Konkani Brāhmans are Mādhvas, and their god is Venkatarāmana of Tirupati, to whom their temples in South Canara are dedicated. Other Brāhmans do not go to the Konkani temples, though non-Brāhmans do so. A very striking feature of the Konkani temples is that the god Venkatarāmana is not represented by an idol, but by a silver plate with the image of the god embossed on it. There are three important temples, at Manjēshwar, Mulki, and Karkal. To these are attached Konkani Brāhmans called [390]Darsanas, or men who get inspired. The Darsana attached to the Mulki temple comes there daily about 11 A.M. After worship, he is given thīrtham (holy water), which he drinks. Taking in his hands the prasādam (offering made to the god), he comes out, and commences to shiver all over his body for about ten minutes. The shivering then abates, and a cane and long strip of deer skin are placed in his hands, with which he lashes himself on the back, sides, and head. Holy water is given to him, and the shivering ceases. Those who have come to the temple put questions to the Darsana, which are answered in Konkani, and translated. He understands his business thoroughly, and usually recommends the people to make presents of money or jewels to Venkatarāmana, according to their means. In 1907, a rich Guzerati merchant, who was doing business at Mangalore, visited the temple, and consulted the Darsana concerning the condition of his wife, who was pregnant. The Darsana assured him that she would be safely delivered of a male child, and made him promise to present to the temple silver equal in weight to that of his wife, should the prophecy be realised. The prediction proving true, the merchant gave silver, sugar-candy, and date fruits, to the required weight at a cost, it is said, of five thousand rupees. At the Manjēshwar temple, the Darsana is called the dumb Darsana, as he gives signs instead of speaking. At a marriage among the Konkanis, for the Nāgavali ceremony eight snakes are made out of rice or wheat flour by women and the bridal couple. By the side of the pot representing Siva and Parvati, a mirror is placed. Close to the Nāgavali square, it is customary to draw on the ground the figures of eight elephants and eight Bairavas in flour.


The following account of the Konkanis is given in the Cochin Census Report, 1901:—“The Konkanis are a branch of the Sarasvat sub-division of the Pancha Gaudas. Judged from their well-built physique, handsome features and fair complexion, they appear to belong ethnically to the Aryan stock. The community take their name from their Guru Sarasvata. Trihotrapura, the modern Tirhut in Behar, is claimed as the original home of the community. According to their tradition, Parasu Rāma brought ten families, and settled them in villages in and around Gomantaka, the modern Goa, Panchrakosi, and Kusasthali. When Goa was conquered by Vijayanagar, they placed themselves under the protection of the kings of that country. For nearly a quarter of a century after the conquest of Goa by the Portuguese, they continued unmolested under the Portuguese Governors. During this period, they took to a lucrative trade in European goods. With the establishment of the Inquisition at Goa, and the religious persecution set on foot by the Portuguese, the community left Goa in voluntary exile. While some submitted to conversion, others fled to the north and south. Those that fled to the south settled themselves in Canara and at Calicut. Receiving a cold reception at the hands of the Zamorin, they proceeded further south, and placed themselves under the protection of the Rulers of Cochin and Travancore, where they flourish at the present day. The Christian converts, who followed in the wake of the first batch of exiles, have now settled themselves at the important centres of trade in the State as copper-smiths, and they are driving a very profitable trade in copper-wares. The Brāhman emigrants are called Konkanis from the fact of their having emigrated from Konkan. In the earliest times, they are supposed to have been [392]Saivites, but at present they are staunch Vaishnavites, being followers of Mādhavāchārya. They are never regarded as on a par with the other Brāhmans of Southern India. There is no intermarriage or interdining between them and other Brāhmans. In Cochin they are mostly traders. Their occupation seems to have been at the bottom of their being regarded as degraded. They have their own temples, called Tirumala Dēvaswāms. They are not allowed access to the inner structure surrounding the chief shrine of the Malayāli Hindu temples; nor do they in turn allow the Hindus of this coast to enter corresponding portions of their religious edifices. The Nambūdris are, however, allowed access even to the interior of the sacred shrine. All caste disputes are referred to their high priest, the Swāmiyar of Kāsi Mutt, who resides at Mancheswaram or Basroor. He is held in great veneration by the community, and his decisions in matters religious and social are final. Some of their temples possess extensive landed estates. Their temple at Cochin is one of the richest in the whole State. The affairs of the temple are managed by Konkani Yogakkars, or an elected committee. Nāyars and castes above them do not touch them. Though their women use coloured cloths for their dress like the women of the East Coast, their mode of dress and ornaments at once distinguish them from other Brāhman women. Amongst them there are rich merchants and landholders. Prabhu, Pai, Shenai, Kini, Mallan, and Vadhyar, are some of the more common titles borne by them.”

In conclusion, brief mention may be made of several other immigrant classes. Of these, the Dēsasthas are Marāthi-speaking Brāhmans, who have adopted some of the customs of the Smartha and Mādhva Carnatakas, [393]with whom intermarriage is permitted. A special feature of the marriage ceremonies of the Dēsasthas is the worship of Ambābhavāni or Tuljabhavāni, with the assistance of Gondala musicians, who sing songs in praise of the deity. The Chitpāvan Brāhmans speak Marāthi and Konkani. In South Canara they are, like the Havīks, owners of areca palm plantations. Karādi Brāhmans, who are also found in South Canara, are said to have come southward from Karhād in the Bombay Presidency. There is a tradition that Parasu Rāma created them from camel bones.

Brāhmani.—A class of Ambalavāsis. (See Unni.)

Brihaspati Vārada.—The name, indicating those who worship their god on Thursday, of a sub-division of Kurubas.

Brinjāri.—A synonym of Lambādi.

Budubudikē.—The Budubudikē or Budubudukala are described in the Mysore Census Report as being “gipsy beggars and fortune-tellers from the Marāta country, who pretend to consult birds and reptiles to predict future events. They are found in every district of Mysore, but only in small numbers. They use a small kind of double-headed drum, which is sounded by means of the knotted ends of strings attached to each side of it. The operator turns it deftly and quickly from side to side, when a sharp and weird sound is emitted, having a rude resemblance to the warbling of birds. This is done in the mornings, when the charlatan soothsayer pretends to have divined the future fate of the householder by means of the chirping of birds, etc., in the early dawn. They are generally worshippers of Hanumantha.” The name Budubudikē is derived from the hour-glass shaped drum, or budbudki. [394]

For the following account of the Budubudukalas, I am indebted to a recent article113:—“A huge parti-coloured turban, surmounted by a bunch of feathers, a pair of ragged trousers, a loose long coat, which is very often out at elbows, and a capacious wallet underneath his arm, ordinarily constitute the Budubudukala’s dress. Occasionally, if he can afford it, he indulges in the luxury of wearing a tiger or cheetah (leopard) skin, which hangs down his back, and contributes to the dignity of his calling. Add to this an odd assortment of clothes suspended on his left forearm, and the picture is as grotesque as it can be. He is regarded as able to predict the future of human beings by the flight and notes of birds. His predictions are couched in the chant which he recites. The burden of the chant is invariably stereotyped, and purports to have been gleaned from the warble of the feathered songsters of the forest. It prognosticates peace, plenty and prosperity to the house, the birth of a son to the fair, lotus-eyed house-wife, and worldly advancement to the master, whose virtues are as countless as the stars, and have the power to annihilate his enemies. It also holds out a tempting prospect of coming joy in an unknown shape from an unknown quarter, and concludes with an appeal for a cloth. If the appeal is successful, well and good. If not, the Budubudukala has the patience and perseverance to repeat his visit the next day, the day after that, and so on until, in sheer disgust, the householder parts with a cloth. The drum, which has been referred to above as having given the Budubudukala his name, is not devoid of interest. In appearance it is an instrument of diminutive size, and is shaped like an hour-glass, to the middle of which is attached a string with a knot at the end, which [395]serves as the percutient. Its origin is enveloped in a myth of which the Budubudukala is naturally very proud, for it tells him of his divine descent, and invests his vocation with the halo of sanctity. According to the legend, the primitive Budubudukala who first adorned the face of the earth was a belated product of the world’s creation. When he was born or rather evolved, the rest of humankind was already in the field, struggling for existence. Practically the whole scheme was complete, and, in the economy of the universe, the Budubudukala found himself one too many. In this quandary, he appealed to his goddess mother Amba Bhavani, who took pity upon him, and presented him with her husband the god Parameswara’s drum with the blessing ‘My son, there is nothing else for you but this. Take it and beg, and you will prosper.’ Among beggars, the Budubudukala has constituted himself a superior beggar, to whom the handful of rice usually doled out is not acceptable. His demand, in which more often than not he succeeds, is for clothes of any description, good, bad or indifferent, new or old, torn or hole. For, in the plenitude of his wisdom, he has realised that a cloth is a marketable commodity, which, when exchanged for money, fetches more than the handful of rice. The Budubudukala is continually on the tramp, and regulates his movements according to the seasons of the year. As a rule, he pays his visit to the rural parts after the harvest is gathered, for it is then that the villagers are at their best, and in a position to handsomely remunerate him for his pains. But, in whatever corner of the province he may be, as the Dusserah approaches, he turns his face towards Vellore in the North Arcot district, where the annual festival in honour of the tribal deity Amba Bhavani is celebrated.” [396]

The insigne of the Budubudikē, as recorded at Conjeeveram, is said114 to be a pearl-oyster. The Oriya equivalent of Budubudikē is stated115 to be Dubaduba.

Bujjinigiyōru (jewel-box).—A sub-division of Gangadikāra Vakkaliga.

Bukka.—Described, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as a “sub-caste of Balija. They are sellers of saffron (turmeric), red powder, combs, etc., and are supposed to have been originally Kōmatis.” They are described by the Rev. J. Cain as travelling about selling turmeric, opium, and other goods. According to the legend, when Kanyakamma threw herself into the fire-pit (see Komāti), they, instead of following her example, presented to her bukka powder, turmeric, and kunkuma. She directed that they should live apart from the faithful Kōmatis, and live by the sale of the articles which they offered to her.

Būragām.—A sub-division of Kālingi.

Burgher.—A name commonly applied to the Badagas of the Nīlgiri hills. In Ceylon, Burgher is used in the same sense as Eurasian in India.

Burmese.—A few Burmese are trained as medical students at Madras for subsequent employment in the Burmese Medical service. At the Mysore census, 1901, a single Burman was recorded as being engaged at the Kolar gold fields. Since Burma became part of the British dominions in 1886, there has been emigration to that developing country from the Madras Presidency on a large scale. The following figures show the numbers [397]of passengers conveyed thence to Burma during the five years, 1901–05:—

1901 84,329
1902 80,916
1903 100,645
1904 127,622
1905 124,365

Busam (grain).—An exogamous sept of Dēvanga.

Busi (dirt).—An exogamous sept of Mutrācha.

Byagara.—Byagara and Bēgara are synonyms of Holeya. [398]

1 Folk-songs of Southern India.

2 Manual of the Nilagiri district.

3 The Todas, 1906.

4 Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilagiris, 1873.

5 Gazetteer of the Nilgiris.

6 Madras Christian College Magazine, 1892.

7 Gazetteer of the Nilgiris.

8 Manual of Coorg.

9 Pioneer, 4th October 1907.

10 Description of a singular Aboriginal Race inhabiting the summit of the Neilgherry Hills.

11 The Todas, 1906.

12 Op. cit.

13 Op. cit.

14 Madras Mail, 1907.

15 The bridge spanning the river of death, which the blessed cross in safety.

16 Report, Government Botanic Gardens, Nilgiris, 1903.

17 E. Schmidt. Reise nach Sudindien, 1894.

18 The World’s Peoples, 1908.

19 H. H. Wilson, Essays and Lectures, chiefly on the Religion of the Hindus, 1862.

20 Hindu Castes and Sects.

21 The Mystics, Ascetics, and Saints of India, 1903.

22 Madras Census Report, 1901.

23 Madras Census Report, 1901.

24 Madras Census Report, 1891.

25 A Native: Pen and Ink Sketches of South India.

26 Madras Census Report, 1891.

27 Manual of the S. Canara district.

28 Yule and Burnell. Hobson-Jobson.

29 Calcutta Review.

30 Indian Review, VII, 1906.

31 See G. Krishna Rao. Treatise on Aliya Santāna Law and Usage, Mangalore, 1898.

32 Calcutta Review.

33 Malabar Law and Custom, 3rd ed., 1905.

34 The Law of Partition and Succession, from the text of Varadaraja’s Vyavaharaniranya by A. C. Burnell (1872).

35 Calcutta Review.

36 Report of the Malabar Marriage Commission, 1891.

37 Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer.

38 Rev. J. Cain, Ind. Ant., V, 1876.

39 M. Paupa Rao Naidu. The Criminal Tribes of India. No. III, Madras, 1907.

40 Op. cit.

41 Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Bāwariya, 1906.

42 Tribes and Castes of Bengal, 1891.

43 Journey through Mysore, Canara and Malabar, 1807.

44 Gentu or Gentoo is “a corruption of the Portuguese Gentio, gentile or heathen, which they applied to the Hindus in contradistinction to the Moros or Moors, i.e., Mahommedans. It is applied to the Telugu-speaking Hindus specially, and to their language.” Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson.

45 Historical Sketches of the South of India: Mysore, 1810–17.

46 By law, to constitute dacoity, there must be five or more in the gang committing the crime. Yule and Burnell, op. cit.

47 Circumcision is practised by some Kallans of the Tamil country.

48 Madras Mail, 1902.

49 Mysore Census Report, 1901.

50 Madras Mail, 1905.

51 Op. cit.

52 Manual of the South Canara district.

53 Agricultural Ledger Series, Calcutta, No. 7, 1904.

54 Jeypore. Breklum, 1901.

55 Manual of the North Arcot district.

56 Madras Census Report, 1891.

57 Op. cit.

58 Taylor. Catalogue Raisonné of Oriental Manuscripts.

59 Madras Census Report, 1901.

60 Journey from Madras through Mysore, Canara and Malabar.

61 Ind. Ant. XVIII, 1889.

62 Hobson-Jobson.

63 Decadas de Asia.

64 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant. IV, 1875.

65 Madras Census Report, 1901.

66 Sanskrit hymn repeated a number of times during daily ablutions.

67 Manual of the North Arcot district.

68 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant. IV, 1875.

69 See F. S. Mullaly. Notes on Criminal Classes of the Madras Presidency.

70 History of Railway Thieves, Madras, 1904.

71 Manual of the North Arcot district.

72 Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life.

73 Gazetteer of the Central Provinces, 1870.

74 Report of the Ethnological Committee of the Central Provinces.

75 Wilson. Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms.

76 Manual of Malabar.

77 Devil worship of the Tuluvas, Ind. Ant. XXIII, XXIV, and XXV, 1894–96.

78 Occasional Essays on Native South Indian Life.

79 Madras Mail, 1905.

80 Madras Census Report, 1901.

81 Manual of the Vizagapatam district.

82 Manual of the North Arcot district.

83 Manual of the Ganjam district.

84 Madras Census Report, 1891.

85 Manual of the North Arcot district.

86 Religious Thought and Life in India.

87 Christianity and Caste, 1893.

88 In the Vēdic verse the word used for my brothers literally means your husbands.

89 A hōtri is one who presides at the time of sacrifices.

90 Madras Christian College Magazine, March, 1903.

91 Religious Thought and Life in India.

92 See Thurston, Ethnographic Notes in Southern India, 1906, pp. 229–37.

93 Op. cit.

94 Watt, Dict. Economic Products of India.

95 Viaggio all’ Indie orientali, 1672.

96 See Note on the Tulsi Plant. Journ. Anthrop. Soc., Bombay, VIII, I, 1907.

97 Madras Mail, 1906.

98 Hobson-Jobson.

99 Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, 1891.

100 Oriental Commerce.

101 Gazetteer of the South Arcot district.

102 Collection of the Decisions of High Courts and the Privy Council on the Hindu Law of Marriage and the Effect of Apostacy after marriage. Madras, 1891.

103 Madras Mail, 1904.

104 Ind. Ant. III, 1874.

105 Ind. Ant. III, 1874.

106 Mysore and Coorg Gazetteer, 1877.

107 Said to be derived from ma, a negation, and arka, sun, in allusion to their not performing the adoration of that luminary which is customary among Brāhmans.

108 Brahmanism and Hinduism.

109 Manual of the South Canara district.

110 Fraser’s Magazine, May 1875.

111 Loc. cit.

112 Indian Review, VII, 1906.

113 Madras Mail, 1907.

114 J. S. F. Mackenzie, Ind. Ant., IV, 1875.

115 Madras Census Report, 1901.

Printed by The Superintendent, Government Press, Madras.




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